It would be hard to call Wednesday's game against Canandaigua (N.Y.) Academy a grudge match for the No. 1 McDonogh girls lacrosse team. None of the current Eagles players were on the squad that fell to Candandaigua four years ago — the last time the Eagles lost.
Still, these Eagles badly wanted to beat Canandaigua, and they did, 19-5, to run their winning streak to 77 games.
"It's not pressure, really, but you don't want them to be the team to beat you again. That's not OK," said senior Sammie Burgess, who remembers watching the Eagles fall, 12-11, to the Braves on a rainy April 11, 2009.
"Like I've said before, we know at some point we're going to have to lose, but we're not ready for it yet. We don't want to give it up just yet, especially to a team that took it away from us before."
Since that loss, the Eagles have won four straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships and finished the past three seasons ranked No. 1 in Lacrosse Magazine's girls poll. They have been atop the Nike/US Lacrosse national Top 25 this entire season.
McDonogh coach Chris Robinson scouted the Braves, who are not nationally ranked, in their 8-6 loss to The Baltimore Sun's No. 3 team, C. Milton Wright, on Tuesday, so the players knew what to expect and how to counter it.
"We wanted to keep the game really fast," junior Megan Whittle said, "because we had heard about how they slowed it down during the C.M. Wright game, taking their long possessions on offense. We wanted to keep the pace up, keep the transition going. Some of the one-on-ones worked out, and then when they caught on to that, there were backdoor passes and we just kind of got into a good groove."
The Eagles (8-0) used their early dominance on the draw and their quick-strike offense to run up a 7-1 lead in the first 13 minutes.
Casey Black scored first on a feed from Olivia Jenner off the draw control just 28 seconds into the game. All-Metro attackers Whittle and Burgess scored twice each in the run, while Bella Huther and Savannah Buchanan had one goal each.
After the Braves' Kendall D'Amore cut the lead to 7-2, Whittle collected two more goals and Huther added another to send the Eagles into halftime with a 10-3 lead. After the break, McDonogh scored on its next four shots, and Whittle's sixth goal of the game made it 14-3 less than six minutes into the half.
The Eagles got goals on nine of 12 shots in the second half as Robinson used every field player on his bench. They shot 19-for-27 in the game.
"It's really neat to see all the new faces step in and take up leadership roles," Robinson said. "Some of these young kids just are getting more experience at playing at the level that we've had from our past. I think early in the season we were a really good team, and now we're playing like a great team."
The Braves (2-2), who got two goals from Kendall D'Amore and one from Lauren D'Amore — the twin sisters of Johns Hopkins junior attacker Taylor D'Amore — like to make a trip south every other year during spring break. They finish their tour at John Carroll on Friday.
"We organize this trip to come here and have some great competition," said Braves coach Sue Ellis, whose team has been playing inside because there's still snow on the ground at home in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
"Now we can go home, and we're going to learn from this and we're only going to get better for our division and our league. That's the whole purpose of this trip."
Goals: C—K. D'Amore 2, L. D'Amore, Savitcheff, Johnson: M— Whittle 6, Burgess 3, Black 3, Buchanan 2, Huther 2, Valis, Smith, Muller.
Assists: M—Jenner 2, Burgess, Buchanan, Black, Horine, Sloane. Saves: C—Van Laeken 4, Yavorek 2, Olschewske 0; M—Silber 4.
Half: M, 10-3.