Langley: Virginia State Champ Prepares for Title Defense

By Ryan Rohde

Earl Brewer has been a staple on the Langley (Va.) sidelines for 15 years. He molded the Saxons into a program where winning records and top-10 finishes are the norm. For all the success, however, one thing eluded the team from Northern Virginia: a state championship.

Langley's seasons typically end in a playoff loss to fellow NoVa powers Oakton, Chantilly or Robinson. The Saxons have made seven Northern region championship game appearances, falling short in all of them.

To add insult to injury, they would usually be forced to watch a local rival hoist the state crown. That changed last year.

On the back of its stout defense, Langley took the state of Virginia by storm on its way to the first Northern Region and state title in program history. The Saxons posted a 21-1 record and beat defending state champ Chantilly 4-3 in overtime in the state championship game.

Langley has now turned from the hunter into the hunted. Although Coach Brewer and company have never been in this position to start a season, he is confident in his approach.

"We are going to do the same thing we have always done. Last year is a great memory," said Brewer. "We have the rings and the banner hanging on the wall, those things will last forever, but this is a brand new season. We need to keep moving forward."

Defense will once again be the backbone of the 2010 Saxons. This unit allowed just over 3 goals per game last year and held Chantilly to just 11 shots in the state title game.

Loyola commit Thomas Robinson is back to lead the group. He is a tall, lengthy defender who can run the field and play either close defense or long stick middie. Junior Brenden Dwyer possesses good precision checks and will help solidify the back line.

Brewer is impressed with the group's overall depth, which could run five or six deep. The attack returns two starters from last season.

Jack Lundeen is a smart player who can go both left and right. Look for Lundeen to control the flow of the offense. Ethan Bailey is the best shooter of the bunch. He scored the game winner over Robinson in overtime in the Northern Region championship.

The midfield took the biggest hit from graduation. The Saxons lost four quality midfielders but return Joey Byrne. Brewer described Byrne as the "most dominate middie in Northern Virginia". He is big, strong and very athletic (6'1 200 lbs.). Byrne will be relied on to gain possessions at the face off "x"--where he went for a 68 percent clip last season--and to provide a scoring punch from up top.

Langley opens their season against Potomac School on 3/16 followed by Madison two day later. Madison handed Langley its only loss last season.

"We are going to put the pressure on, try to make them make mistakes," said Brewer. "We got to get it in high gear. Many say Madison is the team to beat this year."

The Saxons will have their hands full in the first two games and will undoubtedly have a target on their backs. Langley got over the championship hump; time will tell if they can stay king of the mountain.

2010-03-12



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