McDonogh’s girls lacrosse winning streak will go down in the national high school record books at 198 games.
The No. 1 Eagles’ nine-year run without a loss ended Friday night when No. 2 Notre Dame Prep claimed the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship with a 10-8 win at US Lacrosse’s Tierney Field in Sparks.
The Blazers (17-4) avenged last year’s title-game loss to the Eagles (20-1) and won their first A Conference title since 2003.
“That was the craziest feeling. It was almost like surreal,” Blazers senior attacker Hannah Mardiney said. “It was almost like a dream. I was out there and when it got to 20 seconds, I think that’s when it started getting really real. … [After] last year, it was really great to get back out here and get the championship back.”
Against the team that had been ranked No. 1 for nine years in every major national poll, the Blazers dominated possession, pressured every Eagle with the ball and took advantage of McDonogh’s turnovers.
The Eagles looked uncharacteristically off kilter as the Blazers took a 2-0 lead and barely allowed McDonogh to possess the ball through much of the first half. Notre Dame Prep’s defense, which used two backers, as well as the big edge in possession caused a lot of that.
Mac Ford’s Blazers, who took McDonogh to overtime before falling during the regular season, came into the game confident that they could pull off the upset. Afterward, they unveiled T-shirts that proclaimed, “The streak starts today,” on the back.
“We were just so energetic and so excited to come out here and show them that we can win,” said NDP senior defender Sarah Cooper, whose unit held the Eagles to their lowest offensive output in more than three years. “We were all over the field. We were running hard, getting out on them as much as we can, because the more pressure, [the more] we can disrupt the feed.”
Maddie Jenner, who controlled 14 draws in last year’s title game, won just one in the first half and three in the game. McDonogh finished with just a 10-9 edge in draw controls, another reason the Blazers dominated possession.
The Blazers scored off three McDonogh turnovers in the first half as the Eagles threw the ball away several times on the attacking end while NDP took much better care of the ball. Only four saves from Eagles goalie Julia Cooper kept the game as close as it was 9:47 early.
The Eagles never led. They tied it at 2 and they were within one twice in the final 9:47. Julia Hoffman’s free-position goal cut the lead to 9-8 with 6:50 to go. McDonogh forced a turnover on NDP’s attacking end, but Cooper lost the ball out of bounds under pressure behind the goal. Caitlynn Mossman was awarded possession and hit Brooke Barger for the goal before Cooper could recover for a 10-8 lead.
“They’re an incredible team,” said Cooper, who finished with seven saves. “They put out their best effort and they deserved to win, but I’m so proud of my team. We’ve had an incredible season up until this point and I couldn’t ask for anything more than the people I had with me. You can only look at [the streak] as it being the most incredible thing in the world. No other team’s ever done it … and I couldn’t be prouder of the legacy that we’ve left.”
On April 30, the Blazers came close to ending the streak, pushing McDonogh into overtime before Hoffman scored the game-winner on a free position for an 11-10 victory. They were one of only two teams to score in double figures this season against the Eagles, who won every other game by at least four goals.
The Blazers had already avenged a one-goal loss in Wednesday’s semifinals. Seeded third for the tournament, they beat second-seeded Glenelg Country, 7-5, with Mardiney contributing three goals and two assists. Glenelg Country won, 10-9, on March 13 in the A Conference opener for both teams.
This was the first win for the Blazers over McDonogh since the streak began in April 2009. They had lost 17 straight times in the series — including seven in the playoffs — before pulling off the biggest upset in high school girls lacrosse in years.
The Eagles had not lost since April 11, 2009, when they fell to Canandaigua (N.Y.). Their last loss to a Maryland team came in the 2008 A Conference final against John Carroll.
Since McDonogh’s streak began, 43 opponents from nine states, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada, have taken their shots at ending the Eagles’ run.
The streak falls 20 games shy of what is believed to be the national record for any high school team without an individual component such as tennis or gymnastics. Baskin (La.) won 218 straight girls basketball games from 1947 to 1953.
Still, McDonogh coach Nancy Love believes the Eagles should have a party to celebrate the streak, something she never talked about during the season.
It began with a win over Winters Mill on April 13, 2009. On April 17, 2014, it grew to 104, surpassing Mount Hebron’s previous national record of 103 tied in 2007. Two days later, the Eagles boosted that to 105, breaking the 104-game unbeaten streak set by Loch Raven in 1982.
Love, who assisted Chris Robinson through all the years of the streak until he stepped down earlier this year, believes the loss takes nothing away from the Eagles’ accomplishment.
“I say let’s have a huge party and celebrate what this was,” she said. “Hats off to Chris Robinson. Bring everybody back who’s been a part of this. Let’s have a huge celebration and find joy and happiness in what this has been instead of fearing it and being worried and anxious.”
2Notre Dame Prep 10, 1McDonogh 8
Goals: NDP—Curry 2, Mossman 2, Regan, Mardiney, Cooper, Halleron; M—Hoffman 3, Jenner 2, Pearre, Tilson, March. Assists: NDP—Barger, Mardiney, Mossman. M—Pearre. Saves: NDP—Stamas 5; M—Cooper 7.Half: NDP, 6-4.