Monday’s showdown between No. 4 Glenelg and No, 5 Marriotts Ridge girls lacrosse had all the makings of a state championship game, Gladiators coach Alex Pagnotta said, and it sure lived up to expectations.
There were nifty individual scoring efforts, with Glenelg’s Rachel Scheinberg (five goals) and Marriotts Ridge’s Hayleigh Simpson (hat trick) leading the charge. There were saves on point-blank shots in crucial situations. There were only four ties and three lead changes, yet the drama continued to build down the stretch. Almost the entire second half was played within a two-goal window.
In the end, literal seconds before thunder, lightning and a steady rain forced everyone in attendance to seek shelter, Glenelg emerged one-goal better in a playoff classic between two of the state’s best programs. It tallied 12 goals compared to the visitors’ 11, marking the third straight year the Gladiators were victorious against Marriotts Ridge in the section final.
The Gladiators, winners of the past two 3A/2A state titles, will now play the winner of Southern and Patuxent in the 2A South region championship on Wednesday.
“We played the best team left today. I think that was the state championship game,” Pagnotta said. “And I think that we can build off of what we did today and battled through. And just got to keep the girls motivated with their intensity and next few practices and close this thing out.”
Marriotts Ridge’s defensive plan Monday included face-guarding senior Georgia Esmond, one of the county’s top point scorers who notched four goals against the Mustangs’ in a 15-10 Glenelg win on April 13. The tactic to stop Esmond worked, as she only mustered one tally, but the Mustangs still failed to limit a versatile Glenelg attack.
Scheinberg caused by far the most headaches. Her scoring barrage began at the 19:20 mark of the first half, when she netted an unassisted goal to put the Gladiators up, 2-0. Tied at three later in the period, Scheinberg converted three of the next four Glenelg chances. The sequence started with a free position goal and ended with back-to-back scores in 1-on-1 situations, the latest one giving the Gladiators (14-2) their largest lead at 7-3.
Ravaged by back and ankle injuries throughout her career, Scheinberg has been healthy most of this season and morphed into one of the team’s most consistent scorers. Pagnotta reminded her of that with a simple text Sunday night.
“This is going to be your game,” Pagnotta told Scheinberg. “This is the one that you’re really going to put us over the top.”
The Gladiators, already ahead, 7-5, at the break, started the second half in the best way possible, winning the draw and getting an unassisted score from Emily Nalls (three goals) to pad their advantage.
However, the Marriotts Ridge would not fold. Simpson responded almost immediately, barreling through several defenders en route to bringing the Mustangs within two scores. Then came a free position shot from Eloise Clevenger, then another from Simpson to tie the game at eight. In addition to revenge, they were playing for injured junior attack Katie Thompson, who scored three first-period goals before having to be carried off the field with a leg injury midway through the second half.
The Mustangs persisted in her absence, eventually taking a 10-9 lead with about 10 minutes to play.
“I’ve got a really strong group of girls,” coach Amanda Brady said. “They stand by each other, and they put their heart on the line today, hustled their butts off. As the coaches, we couldn’t have asked for anything more from them.”
But down the stretch, Glenelg displayed too much offensive firepower. Within the next six minutes, Anna Callahan tied the game with a turnaround rifle, and Esmond netted her first goal of the game on a free-position chance. After a Marriotts Ridge timeout, it was Scheinberg who made the most of her free-position opportunity with 3:40 to play, the final Gladiators’ goal in a thrilling postseason victory.
Glenelg (14-2) — 12, Marriotts Ridge (13-3) — 11
Goals: G — Rachel Scheinberg 5, Emily Nalls 3, Anna Callahan, Georgia Esmond, Mallory Jubb, Maddy O’Brien; MR — Hayleigh Simpson 3, Katie Thompson 3, Eloise Clevenger 2, Gracie Kennedy 2, Victoria Hensh.
Assists: G — Anna Callahan, Jenny Giampalmo, Mallory Jubb; MR — Jessie Burd.
Saves: G — Maddie McSally 5; MR — Olivia Ranta 4.
Halftime: 7-5, Glenelg
AROUND THE LEAGUE
3A East, Section I final
Mt. Hebron (11-5) — 10, Centennial (4-10) — 5
4A North, Section I final
Dulaney 16, Howard (8-9) — 14