After going 3-0 in league games last week, the task of striving towards a second straight Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship doesn't get any easier for Mount de Sales.
At least the Sailors will be on the friendly confines on the new turf field at Mount de Sales when they face Friends on Oct. 4 (4 p.m.) and Seton Keough on Oct. 6 (1 p.m.).
Friends is unbeaten in league play (4-0) while rival Seton Keough shares the same conference mark as de Sales (3-0) through Tuesday.
The following week, the Sailors face defending B Conference finalist Maryvale Prep (2-2) and Park (4-1).
“We definitely can’t let up,” forward Leah DiGiandomenico said. “Coach keeps telling us not to get ahead of ourselves because we have a championship to defend.”
Besides, Mt. de Sales is rested and ready to take the challenge, considering the rest the team has had before last week.
After beating Catonsville, 7-4, on Sept. 11, Mount de Sales didn’t play again until Sept. 25.
Two weeks is a long time for a team to wait, especially one as talented as the Sailors.
“You can only imagine how boring its gets and these girls are gamers and they want to play ball,” Mount de Sales coach Mary Gentner said. “That’s why they were all fired up.”
Wins over Glenelg Country School, 1-0, on a goal by freshman Mackenzie Griffith off an assist from DiGiandomenico started a splurge in which the Sailors also dispatched Mercy, 6-0, and Indian Creek, 4-2.
DiGiandiomenico, Julianna Shearer and Amanda Ignacio each had two goals in the win over Mercy while Shearer (2) Griffith and Ignacio (1 each) scored against Indian Creek on assists by Ignacio, DiGiandomenico and Ashley Lesniewski.
The three conference wins kept Mount de Sales unbeaten in conference play and improved its overall mark to 7-2.
The defending champs, led by senior captains Lesniewski, Shearer, Lauren Guzman and Gina Hisky (injured, out for season) and junior captain Eve Lukowski, are searching for another title this fall.
“We want to go all out and win the championship,” Lesniewski said. “That is definitely the goal.”
Team chemistry won’t get in the way of that pursuit.
“In addition to playing together, they do a lot of things off the field and they have a lot of team bonding,” Gentner said. “They really play like a team.”
Along with the veterans, Sailor sophomores, such as forward Lacy Cole, midfielder Riley Gentner and defenders Laura Gretz and Caitlin Carr, are giving the teams a good mix of youth and experience.
Gretz and Carr join returning junior defender Lauren Hiltz in the back protecting veteran goalie Lukowski.
“We are rebuilding on defense, but they are doing really well,” Mary Gentner said.
That defense was tested early in 4-2 loses to Notre Dame Prep and Westminster.
They also fell behind, 2-0, to Catonsville before rallying.
Meanwhile, the offense has proven to be a potent and versatile group, led by Shearer (11 goals), DiGiandomenico (8) and Ignacio (6).
The players are all adapting well to the pace and feel of the new turf field at Mount de Sales.
“I love the turf,” DiGiandomenico said. “It shows off our stick skills. We are way quicker with the ball and the speed of the game is how it should be.”
“It’s definitely a lot different from last year,” Shearer added. “It definitely speeds up the game.”
It has also quickened the scoring pace as evidenced in the triumph over Mercy when they scored three goals in the final 6:39 of the first half to build a 5-0 lead.
“We shoot the lights out of the ball,” Gentner said. “We take good shots, chatter and do things like back passes that we didn’t do last year on the grass field during our 16-4-1 season. We are a powerhouse offensive team.”