Mark Rubley saw his team down 2-0 to Westfield minutes into the first quarter. Typically, it would be a sign that the night was not meant to be—quite the contrary.
Instead, the young sophomore seized control and proceeded to outscore the entire Bulldogs team himself. Five goals by Rubley to Westfield’s four as a whole headlined James Madison’s 13-4 victory in Chantilly last Tuesday. The Warhawks (11-3) finish the regular season with a perfect 5-0 record in district play, earning the top seed in the Concorde District Tournament.
“It feels good to come on the road and get the win,” said Rubley after his big performance. “We scored a lot on transition, and we did a good job with our offensive possessions.”
Rubley’s first goal with just under four minutes to play in the first quarter after senior Tyler Whittle cut the Warhawks’ deficit to 2-1. After being down early, Madison ran off seven straight goals to take a 7-3 halftime lead.
If that wasn’t enough, the Warhawks scored six straight goals in the second half before the Bulldogs (8-6) capped off the scoring at 13-4. Madison senior goalie Eric Jones said that not being dazed and continuing to lock in paid off despite his slow start.
“We came out a little bit rough to start,” said Jones. “In the end, we just finished strong. We hope to bring the district banner back to Vienna where it belongs.”
Westfield opened the game with back-to-back scores within minutes by junior Josh Cho and senior Aidan Todd. But Whittle’s goal gave Madison a spark that foreshadowed what was to come.
Rubley would record his first goal to tie the game before junior Jake Green’s goal near the end of the first quarter. At 3-2, that was as close as Westfield would get. After three straight goals to take the lead, Madison ran off four more in a row, courtesy of Rubley, Green, Daniel Jacobs, and William Rubley. Westfield’s Jack Markert would record another goal for the Bulldogs before intermission.
“We’re hoping to see Madison in the district championship game; that is our goal,” said Westfield Head Coach Phil Polizzotti following the loss. “We just need to be able to clear the ball better and play better, and we have to do a couple of things on defense to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Westfield came out strong in the second half, playing on Madison’s side early on, but the Warhawks continued to deny opportunities. Instead, they wound up lighting the scoreboard with six straight. Mark Rubley would score three goals in the second half, while Ethan Do, Carter Casto, and Levi Wentz would tack on the rest. Markert’s second goal of the night and fourth of the game for Westfield would cap off the scoring.
“This just feels great,” said senior Gavin Levay, “Losing those three games earlier in the year and no one thought we would be able to do this, and coming out here and making a statement feels great.”
At one point, there were questions about whether or not this year’s unit was cut from the same cloth, as Levay pointed out. The Warhawks were 3-3 earlier in the season and had just come off back-to-back losses against Yorktown and Lake Braddock, being outscored 20-11. Since then, they have won eight straight, including the Westfield game.
Additionally, success has been a trend for the Warhawks over the past few years. In 2019, behind the play of goalie Charlie Hassett and midfielder John Hollingsworth, the Warhawks won their first lacrosse state championship with an 11-3 rout of the Robinson Rams, avenging their 2013 state final loss against Chantilly.
Madison Head Coach Aaron Solomon was at the head of the 2019 team that broke through. Solomon said this team’s continuity and willingness to compete with each other outweighs individual talents and is a sight to behold.
“Westfield got up early, but for this team to show resilience and to come back from being down is great to see, and we will just continue to take this season one game at a time,” said Solomon.
Westfield will be the No.2 seed in the tournament and hosts either the 6-seed South Lakes or 3-seed Centreville on Friday. As the No.1 seed, Madison will also play on Friday and host either the 5-seed Chantilly Chargers or 4-seed Oakton Cougars.