Taylor Cummings scripted a "Hollywood ending" to a perfect McDonogh girls lacrosse season.
The senior midfielder scored the game winner with 9.8 seconds left to lead the No. 1 Eagles over tenacious No. 5 Maryvale, 12-11, Sunday at Stevenson University for their fourth straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship and an 18-0 season.
The 12 McDonogh seniors finished their careers 76-1 and the Eagles, ranked No. 1 in ESPN High School's Fab 50, went unbeaten for the third year in a row and extended their nation's best winning streak to 69 games.
"It's kind of surreal knowing that we'll never wear a McDonogh uniform again," Cummings said. "But to win the championship and hopefully this seals our national spot … it's just a great way to end our year. I couldn't have asked for anything more to end our senior year."
In the Eagles' 22-13 regular-season win, Maryvale (13-4) could stick with McDonogh for only a half. This time, they weren't out of it until Cummings, last season's All-Metro Player of the Year and Lacrosse Magazine's 2011 national Player of the Year, took over in the final three minutes.
The Lions tied the score at 11 when Miranda Ibello fed Sam Darcangelo with 8:12 remaining in the game. With 2:52 to go, Cummings forced a turnover, checking the ball away from an opponent and the Eagles set up for the last shot.
After McDonogh worked nearly two minutes off the clock, Cummings took the ball on the left side, dodged several opponents, spun a couple times and reached high past a defender to put her shot past Lions stellar goalie Caroline Federico, who had made 10 saves.
"It's a Hollywood ending to phenomenal career," Eagles coach Chris Robinson said. "I had more confidence in her finishing that play than anybody I've ever coached. I knew if we'd get the ball in her hands at that time, something positive was going to happen and she came through."
Cummings, who is headed to Maryland, followed that with a play just as important. She won the next draw, denying the Lions a chance to send the game into overtime. It was her ninth draw control, helping the Eagles won 19 of 25 draws.
Early on, Corinne Etchison did most of the damage for the Eagles, scoring all six of her goals in the first half. After Cummings scored to open the second half, Etchison fed Megan Whittle to give the Eagles their biggest lead of the game, 9-6.
The Eagles appeared ready to break the game open, but Maryvale came right back with goals from Samantha Aiello and Darcangelo, who led the Lions with three goals.
"We felt this was our time," Darcangelo said of her team's tenacity. "Any team can lose on any given day. We figured the streak has to end eventually, why can't we be the ones to do it?"
The Lions came closer than any team has this season. Until Sunday, Century was closest, falling 15-8. The Eagles, however, also won last season's title game by one goal, 18-17, over Roland Park.
Coach Jessica Randisi's Lions, who won their last title in 2002, rallied from two goals down after Whittle gave the Eagles an 11-9 lead with 12:57 left. Goals from Ibello and Darcangelo evened the score while the Lions defense held the Eagles scoreless for more than 12 minutes. Federico made a couple of terrific saves in that stretch.
Eagles goalie Katie Ferraro finished with three saves, but her last one, the only one she made in the second half, was huge. With 3:55 to go, Taylor Oliver emerged from an unsettled situation in front of the crease and whipped the ball at Ferraro, whose save preserved the 11-all tie.
For Randisi, the loss was tough to take because the game was so close, but she was thrilled with how her players executed the game plan for 50 minutes.
"I'm so proud of them," Randisi said. "It's a shame it didn't come out our way, but we ran with them the whole game. We knew we had to slow them down in the midfield and I think we did that part of the time. Our defense stepped up. We were sliding. Caroline was on. We knew our shots had to count when we took them and for the most part, they did. The girls did everything we asked them to do."
The Lions, who upset No. 2 Bryn Mawr in the semifinal, were much more efficient on attack than McDonogh, which outshot them 30-18
The Eagles are the only lacrosse team in the 13-year history of the IAAM to win four straight titles in any conference. They, however, have one more to go to match the area's longest private school run. Roland Park won five in a row between 1991 and 1995 in the Association of Independent Schools league, the predecessor to the IAAM
As for the 69-game streak, the Eagles have the longest active girls lacrosse run in the nation and the second-longest ever in the Baltimore Metro area. They have a few years to go to match the record of 103 shared by Loch Raven (1973-1982) and Mount Hebron (2001-2007). Loch Raven also went 104 games without a loss, tying the game before their winning streak began
Previous IAAM A Conference champions
2008 John Carroll
2007 John Carroll
2006 St. Paul's
2005 St. Mary's
2004 St. Paul's
2003 Notre Dame Prep
2001 Notre Dame Prep
2000 Bryn Mawr
Ella Cooper scored six goals and added an assist as Friends (16-1) won its fourth B Conference championship, 16-7, over Park.
In a game that featured 26 shots from each team, young goalies on each side made some terrific saves — 12 from Friends sophomore Rose Woolson and 10 from Park freshman Lexi Kuntz. The Bruins (13-6) cut the lead to 8-5 on Jenna Janes and Yen Baker goals, but Friends came back with five straight goals, including two each from Cooper and Emma Sissman (three goals, three assists).
Friends 16, Park 7
Goals: P—Janes 2, Lessans 2, Hettleman, Baker, Sibel; F—Cooper 6, Sissman 3, Corkum 3, Kehoe 2, Wallack, Klein. Assists: F—Sissman 3, Cooper. Saves: P—L.Kuntz 10; F—Woolson 12. Half: F, 7-3.
No. 1 McDonogh 12, No. 5 Maryvale 11
Goals: MV—Darcangelo 3, Ibello 2, Aiello 2, Ross, McWright, Tizard, T.Oliver; MD— Etchison 6, Cummings 4, Whittle 2. Assists: MV—Aiello 2, Ibello; MD—Cummings 2, Etchison. Saves: MV—Federico 10; MC—Ferraro 3. Half: MD, 7-6.