McDonogh's No. 1 girls lacrosse team is now within one game of its ultimate goal after Thursday's 17-10 victory over No. 9 Maryvale in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinals.
The victory runs the Eagles' winning streak to 90 games and sends them after their fifth straight A Conference championship Saturday at 5 p.m. at Gerstell Academy in Finksburg against No. 4 St. Paul's, a 12-9 winner over Bryn Mawr in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Because of thunderstorms rolling near their Owings Mills campus Wednesday, the Eagles had to wait an extra day for their semifinal, but they took a 16-4 lead five minutes into the second half and cruised into the title game.
If the Eagles can get past the Gators on Saturday, the seniors will finish their high school careers without a loss. The last time McDonogh lost, April 11, 2009 to Canandaigua, N.Y., when today's seniors were in the eighth grade. They were in seventh grade the last time the Eagles lost to a local team, John Carroll in the A Conference final in 2008.
The Eagles (21-0) haven't been content to rest on their laurels all season even as they've remained the No. 1 team in the Nike/US Lacrosse High School Girls' Lacrosse National Top 25.
"We were talking about it earlier today before the game (and want to) leave no doubt, because anything can happen," senior defender Devon Horine said. "We never go into a game with a mindset beyond that game. We weren't thinking beyond today. We really focus on one game at a time and playing our hardest. Like [coach Chris Robinson] says, 'It doesn't take talent to hustle.'"
Despite a couple of forced passes in the opening minutes, the Eagles started rolling once Sammie Burgess fed Posey Valis for the first goal.
Megan Whittle scored twice and Burgess and Whittle added extra-man goals before Maryvale turned over a clear that Eagles goalie Allison Silber scooped off the turf to spark a transition goal. Horine's feed to Burgess boosted the lead to 6-0 just over nine minutes into the game.
After Amanda Bochniak, Sydney Hesselbein and Emma Tizard cut the lead in half for the Lions, the Eagles finished the half with a 6-1 run and scored the first four goals of the second half. Anne Smith's goal gave them a 16-4 lead with 18:03 left.
Whittle, who finished with five goals, and Burgess, who had four goals and two assists, didn't play most of the second half, but the Eagles don't lose much with their second units, so coach Jessica Randisi's Lions (11-5) still mounted an impressive run to outscore McDonogh, 6-1, in the last 16:34.
"We know how McDonogh is and we know what to expect every game," said Bochniak, who finished with three goals and two assists. "We didn't take our time as much as we should have in the beginning, but we learned our lesson and tried to do better in the second half. It's just sad that it's our last game."
In winning the rematch of last year's title game, the Eagles learned a lesson too, Burgess said, when the Lions dominated the second-half draws to spark their comeback. McDonogh had won 12 of 17 first-half draws.
"We just learned the value of having the ball from the draw control," she said, "because if we have the ball, we have a pretty good attack. Having the ball is what counts and we have to be hungry for it."
Goals: MV—Bochniak 3, Hesselbein 2, Tizard, Ibello, Crocetti, McWright, Doyle; MCD—Whittle 5, Burgess 4, Smith 3, Muller 2, Valis, Huther, George. Assists: MV—Bochniak 2, Ibello, Doyle; MCD—Burgess 2, Horine 2, Buchanan, Black, George. Saves: MV—Federico 10; MCD—Silber 4, Cadoux 1. Half: MCD, 12-4.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun