Dominion lacrosse gets past nerves to capture third straight state title

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Nerves consumed Dominion’s girls’ lacrosse players when they lined up for a rendition of the national anthem before the Virginia Class 4 championship game Saturday afternoon.

Attacker Jamie Lee’s heartbeat accelerated. For attacker Molly Battaglia, the stakes of playing her final high school game sunk in. Despite having won a pair of state titles, Dominion’s players acknowledged anxiety before a championship game was inevitable.

But when Lee scored in the opening two minutes at Massaponax High in Fredericksburg, the Titans settled in. Dominion dominated the remainder of its 16-7 win over Western Albemarle to secure its third consecutive state crown.

“It’s always kind of antsy until you get that first [goal],” said Battaglia, a Georgetown signee who had a hat trick. “And then you’re like, ‘Okay, that’s who we are. We’re a power force, and we got it going.’ ”

All three of Dominion’s state final victories have come over Western Albemarle (16-4). The first pair were by four goals, including a second-half comeback last year.

Dominion’s players said they feel pressure to uphold the Loudoun County program’s standard. At school, classmates often ask if they’ll win another title. Entering Saturday, Dominion players fretted the challenge of beating a team three times.

“I was very stressed,” said Lee, who had four goals and six assists.

But the Titans (17-2) were more dominant this season, building a 9-2 halftime lead and a 10-goal advantage midway through the second half to start a running clock.

Coach Diane Traynor began sharing her vision of winning championships when she took over a .500 program eight years ago. But it took this year’s seniors to construct a dynasty. They grew up playing in the Algonkian Lacrosse Club while aspiring to transform the Titans into a state contender.

In seventh grade, current seniors attended Dominion’s playoff loss at Meridian High in Falls Church and told each other “Let’s not let that happen.”

After dropping back-to-back games to Class 6 contenders in late-March, Dominion rebuilt its confidence with an 18-4 win over eventual Class 5 runner-up Riverside on April 1. The Titans finished with 15 victories by double-digits.

“It’s really, really hard to win three in a row,” Traynor said. “We always had that vision, and then we just kind of worked at what we needed to do to get there. We just started planting that seed many, many years ago. If you come together as a team and have a big shared vision like that, that’s what can happen.”

In the Class 4 boys’ final, Dominion fell to Atlee, 16-4, in Fredericksburg.

The Titans, who beat E.C. Glass to cap an undefeated season in last year’s championship game, trailed their Hanover County opponent by 10 at halftime Saturday. Dominion finished with a 14-6 record after a 5-4 start.

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