McDonogh girls lacrosse goalie Katie Ferraro made several exceptional saves in Saturday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title game, but none more important than the last.
The junior saved a free-position shot to her low left corner from Roland Park's Caroline Seats with 2:19 left, and that would be the stop that secured an 18-17 victory for the No. 1 Eagles, their third straight A Conference title and their 51st straight win before about 900 fans at Gerstell Academy in Finksburg.
The Eagles (19-0) took an 11-7 lead late in the first half with a 5-0 spurt, the only significant run of the game, and held off the No. 5 Reds (15-6), who pulled within 17-16 on Betsy Angel's free-position goal with 3:47 to go.
Seats attempted to tie it at 17, but Ferraro said she knew where the Reds senior planned to shoot.
"We watch game film and I think everyone on the team has told me a good 20 times at least, 'She shoots low every time.' I knew it was going low, I just didn't know exactly where," Ferraro said.
After the clear, the Eagles ran more than a minute off the clock, so the Reds brought goalie Mattie Miller out to help them double-team the ball. McDonogh's Taylor Cummings found a clear path to the empty goal and beat two defenders to score the game-winner with 59 seconds left.
The Reds, who had not been to the title game since 2004, weren't finished as Gabby Weintraub won the next draw and Mattie Meredith scored her fifth goal on a free position with 36.9 seconds left. Liz Bannatine then made sure the Reds would not get the ball again, winning the final draw for the Eagles, who ran out the clock.
"No one has ever won the IAAM A championship three times and that's what we were striving to do," said Cummings, who had five goals. "It's the best feeling in the world. We won for our seniors. Our seniors have worked so hard all year and every single person on this team contributed."
Coach Chris Robinson's Eagles, who pulled out a 16-14 win over the Reds in the conference opener in March, needed that 5-0 run late in the first half after Seats gave the Reds a 7-6 lead. The Eagles won five straight draws and Corrine Etchison scored three times, Brooks Lawler once and then Cummings made it 11-7 with 1:17 to go before the half.
No other team has managed to disrupt McDonogh's double-teaming defense the way coach Kristin Nicolini's Reds have. Coming into the final, the Eagles were allowing an average of 6.9 goals and had given up double figures only five times.
"Our team was just moving the ball fast and once we got the draw, we knew we could score each time, so just keep the ball moving and also not take it from the top, because their doubles are always ready. We wanted to go from the sides," said Seats, whose team had the two highest scoring games this season against the Eagles.
McDonogh, ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN Rise, has not lost since April 11, 2009 when the Eagles fell to Canandaigua (N.Y.). John Carroll was the last local team to beat them, in the 2008 A Conference final. Their 51 straight wins is the sixth-longest winning streak in Baltimore girls lacrosse history behind the record 103, set by Loch Raven in 1982 and matched by Mount Hebron in 2007.
Mercy used an 8-1 run to blow open a close game and take its first IAAM lacrosse championship, 13-7, over Friends.
Emma Sissman's free-position goal cut what had been a three-goal Mercy lead to 5-4 with 4:37 left in the first half, but the Magic (17-1) rallied with five straight goals and eight of the next nine to take a 13-5 lead when Karlie Dougherty fed Aubrey Wetzelberger with 3:47 to go. Ella Copper had five goals for the Quakers (13-4).
Lutheran polished off a perfect season with its first C Conference title since 2007 as Julija Eshmont and Mackenzie Moore scored four goals each to lead the Saints to a 14-6 victory over St. Timothy's. The Saints (15-0) scored the first three goals and never trailed as they held St. Timothy's scoreless for the last 18:19. Eliza Finn led St. Timothy's (10-4) with three goals.
Baltimore girls lacrosse
104*: Loch Raven (1973-82)
103: Loch Raven (1973-82)
103: Mount Hebron (2001-2007)
67: Loch Raven (1987-92)
63*: Mount Hebron (1998-2001)
57: Severna Park (1988-91)
54: Mount Hebron (1998-2001)
51: McDonogh (2009-2011)
*denotes unbeaten streak
McDonogh 18, Roland Park 17
Goals: RP—Meredith 5, Todd 4, Ramzy 3, Reifler 3, Seats 2; M—Cummings 5, Burgess 3, Lawler 3, Etchison 3, Cook, Schonk, Valis, Whittle. Assists: RP—Formwalt 5, Angel 2, Meredith, Ramzy; M—Cook 2, Cummings, Schonk. Saves: RP—Miller, 5; M—Ferraro 8. Half: M, 11-8.
Mercy 13, Friends 6
Goals: F—Cooper 5, Sissman, Corkum; M—Wezelberger 4, Borkowski 3, Hicks 2, Aikens 2, Mohlhenrich, McBee. Assists: F—Sissman 2; M—Hicks 3, Borkowski 2, Aikens, Dougherty. Saves: F—Woolson 3; M—Lawder 9. Half: M, 6-4.
Lutheran 14, St. Timothy's 6
Goals: ST—Finn 3, Finney 1, Denholm, Thomas; L—Eshmont 4, Moore 4, Fuller 2, R.Grueninger 2, Lehner, Brown. Assists: ST—Cutts, Denholm, Finney; L—Fuller 2, Lehner 2, Eshmont. Saves: ST—Smith 10; L—E.Grueninger 4. Half: L, 9-5.