The longer the McDonogh girls lacrosse team's winning streak went on this spring, the more determined the Eagles' opponents were to end it — and the more resilient the Eagles were in keeping it going.
No. 6 Roland Park took its best shot Sunday night and had the No. 1 Eagles down by three goals with less than 10 minutes to play in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship at Stevenson University, but McDonogh rallied with seven straight goals to take a 16-13 victory for its 112th straight win.
The Eagles (21-0) capped their fifth straight undefeated season with their sixth straight IAAM A Conference title.
"I think it's really special and something to be proud of," said Eagles attacker Megan Whittle, who along with the rest of the senior class finished her high school career 80-0. "I'm especially proud and honored to say I was part of the team for four years, but this is the most special year, in my opinion. Everyone always doubts us. Everyone says we can't do it, and we always do."
The Eagles hadn't trailed by three goals all season until the Reds (16-5) opened the second half with a 7-1 spurt to take a 12-9 lead with 12:23 left. The Reds won the first nine draws of the half, and Cece Finney scored three of her four goals in the run.
Finney's draw controls helped her score three times in a little more than a minute to give the Reds a 10-9 lead. Anna Hauser added a free-position goal and then fed Marisa Class for a 12-9 lead with 12:23 left.
Defense helped the Eagles turn things back around as a turnover by Roland Park eventually led to a free-position goal by McDonogh's Kelsey Cummings. A few plays later, Andie Aldave intercepted Reds goalie Riley Brager's clear attempt and fed Brindi Griffin to cut the Reds' lead to 12-11 with 7:03 to go.
After Elizabeth George rolled the crease to slip a low shot past Brager to tie the game at 12, Eagles goalie Gabbe Cadoux made a point-blank save against Finney.
"She had a really great shot. It was right over my head," said Cadoux, who finished with eight saves. "I just felt a lot better after I made it. I knew I had to make it. After she scored a few, I was thinking, 'Not again.' "
That save stoked the Eagles' momentum and boosted their confidence as Whittle then added her third goal and assisted Griffin twice in less than a minute and a half. George completed the Eagles finishing run to make it 16-12 with 3:32 left.
"We were so hyped up about all those goals, and as soon as we make a mistake, per se, we kind of like, played it safe after that and didn't put it all out on the field like we did when we were winning those draws," Finney said.
The Eagles, the top-ranked team in all of the national girls lacrosse polls, certainly had confidence in their ability to come back, especially after trailing No. 5 Severn by two goals with less than six minutes left in their 13-12 semifinal win Wednesday. Whittle said no one panicked.
"There was plenty of time left," she said. "When they started getting the momentum, they were rocking and rolling, they were yelling. But there was 12 minutes left, and that's plenty of time for us with our explosive offense and our draw control."
Roland Park won 17 of 31 draws, but the Eagles won six of the final eight to allow them to dominate possession late in the game.
"We substituted a lot, but in the last 12 minutes of the game, we just went with our 12 best athletes," Eagles coach Chris Robinson said. "We said, 'If we're going to go down, we're going down with our best,' and I think our 12 were fresher than their 12 coming into the last 10 minutes of the game. I think that was a huge part of it. Every loose ball that we couldn't get to earlier in the game, we got to."
Griffin led the Eagles with five goals, while Whittle had three goals and two assists, and George had two goals and three assists. Hauser and Finney scored four goals each for Roland Park, and Francesca Whitehurst added three.
Senior midfielder Abby Corkum led six Quakers scorers with four goals and two assists as Friends cruised to an 18-6 win over Glenelg Country in the B Conference championship game.
Junior midfielder Kailie Saudek scored four goals for Friends (17-1), and junior Rachel Kehoe, sophomore Marli Caplan and Irene Lunt each added three goals.
Alyssa Arnold, who had three goals in the game, scored first for Glenelg Country (12-5) by beating two defenders and Friends goalie Rose Woolson (eight saves).