Five games in five days is a demanding schedule, but McDonogh was up for the challenge, extending its winning streak to 80 games along the way.
The Eagles capped the most rigorous portion of their spring schedule by defeating Mt. Hebron, 11-5, to win the Fight for 5 tournament at Cedar Lane Park on Saturday.
“Five games in five days is an exponential amount,” said McDonogh midfielder Posey Valis. “It was great to end (the stretch) on such an intense game. It brought our adrenaline up so that we didn’t feel as tired as we probably were.”
Although they have scrimmaged, the Fight for 5 championship was the first time that McDonogh and Mt. Hebron have played each other and the story lines are numerous.
Before he came to McDonogh, Chris Robinson coached at Mt. Hebron where current Viking coach Trish Derwart was one of his players.
“Trish really wanted us to be a part of this tournament and I said, ‘Sure why not?’ Robinson said.
After McDonogh had two goals called back, Mt. Hebron put the first tally on the scoreboard when Sam Brookhart converted a pass from Jordan Stevens.
McDonogh responded with seven straight goals to take a 7-1 lead at halftime.
“We started out really strong and we really believed that we could win,” Brookhart said. “A lot of teams when they play McDonogh, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, they are going to blow us out.’ We thought we could hang with them and at first we did.”
The Eagles’ depth — they substitute midfield lines — speed and overall defense eventually wore Mt. Hebron down.
“We really played aggressive defense going after the ball,” said McDonogh’s Maggie Preas. “They tried to spread us out but we sent the double (team) and contained them.”
It didn’t help that Mt. Hebron received three yellow cards in the game. Each card put the Vikings in a man-down position for two minutes.
Mt. Hebron achieved much of its goal of taking away McDonogh’s transition game and forcing the Eagles into a settled attack as much as possible. Still, five of McDonogh’s scores came on 8-meter free position shots.
Led by Megan Whittle and Sammi Burgess, with two goals each, nine different Eagles scored, an offense balance that proved difficult for Mt. Hebron to stop.
Mt. Hebron’s scoring came from Brookhart (two), Chachi Kelehan, Amanda Steinmuller and Jen Giles.
Our girls “didn’t hold back. They didn’t play with any sort of fear, they wanted this,” Derwart said.
“It was good to be there and hang with them and know that maybe the next time we can beat them,” Brookhart said.
Mt. Hebron reached the championship game by defeating Manchester Valley, 21-6. Mt. Hebron advanced with a 13-4 win over Hereford.
Hereford won the consolation game, 17-9, over Manchester Valley.
The Fight for 5 tournament is held to raise funds for the Evan Nicholson Memorial Scholarship. Nicholson is a former Viking who lost his battle with leukemia in 2008.