McDonogh's girls lacrosse players put the finishing touch on their historic 104th straight victory Thursday afternoon with a raucous celebration.
The celebration alone made it clear that the No. 1 Eagles had accomplished something special with their 18-10 win over No. 12 St. Paul's. They're usually all smiles but all business after every win, but it isn't everyday that a team breaks a national record, so coach Chris Robinson urged them to revel in the moment.
The players happily obliged, squealing and yelling as they raced into a huge huddle on their home field.
"It was just a really fun day today, knowing that it was 104," said senior Megan Whittle, who had six goals and three assists. "We're usually very businesslike and take it a day at a time and keep moving on, but today, my coach, Chris Robinson, said, 'Guys, you've got to celebrate. We executed the little things today and we deserve a celebration.' It's a really big deal and we're very proud."
In winning their 104th straight, the Eagles broke what is believed to be the national record for consecutive girls lacrosse victories set by Loch Raven in 1982 and tied by Mount Hebron in 2007, although no organization keeps such records for public and private schools.
"It meant a lot for our program, 104 wins," said junior Olivia Jenner. "This is a huge accomplishment for all of us. It just embodies everything we've worked for in practice the whole year and in past years. We've gotten a lot of support from alumni. … They've all been sending us texts."
When Thursday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game started, the Eagles (13-0, 9-0) needed only a few minutes to leave no doubt that the record would be theirs.
Elizabeth George grabbed the first draw and scored in just 15 seconds. After Savannah Buchanan won the next draw, Whittle went to goal but was hit on the head. That drew a yellow card for the Gators defender and forced St. Paul's to play man-down for three minutes.
Whittle nailed the free-position shot, fed Jenner twice, then score two more goals — all in the next minute and 40 seconds. When Brindi Griffin scored the next goal on an assist from George, the Eagles were up 7-0 before St. Paul's had a single possession.
"We played great," Robinson said. "We were very composed. I thought we might be too pumped up or too psyched out and play a little sloppy, but I think we set the right amount of intensity and focus and we really played well right from the get-go, got off to a great start."
The Eagles continued to dominate the draw, winning 14 of 20 in the first half, as they took a 12-1 lead. After Catie May fed Kelsey Cummings to make it 11-1 with 13:40 left in the first half, kicking in the running clock with a 10-goal lead, the Gators only managed to stop it a few times. They pulled within nine twice until the final 43 seconds when Sara Moeller and Rachel Yaffe (5 goals) cut the margin to eight.
In the rematch of last year's IAAM A Conference championship, in which McDonogh rallied from four goals down to win 11-8, the Gators (5-6, 4-5) played a much better second half. They picked up their intensity, won loose balls and outshot the Eagles, 10-6 in the half, after seeming shell shocked by McDonogh's opening blitz.
"When a hole is dug, it's definitely hard to come back let alone against the No. 1 team in the nation," St. Paul's coach Courtney Connor said. "They just had their speed up, kept pushing the ball. They're smart and it's tough to come back, but I'm proud that our girls kept playing."
The Eagles, who have won five straight A Conference championships and have been ranked No. 1 in the country for four straight years, haven't lost since April 11, 2009 when they fell to Canandaigua (N.Y.). John Carroll was the last Maryland team to beat them, in the 2008 A Conference final.
There is, however, one more record to try to break — Loch Raven's 104-game undefeated streak, which included a tie. That could fall Saturday when McDonogh heads to Mount Hebron's Fight for Five Tournament at Cedar Lane Park in Howard County. At 11 a.m., the Eagles take on North Harford. If they win, they'll meet the winner of a game between No. 7 Mount Hebron and South River at 3 p.m. for the tournament title — and win No. 106.
No. 1 McDonogh 18, No. 12 St. Paul's 10
Goals: M—Whittle 6, Jenner 3, Griffin 3, George 2, Cummings 2, McCoy, Lewis; SP—Yaffe 5, Rosa 2, L.Liotta, Moeller, Clayton. Assists: M—Whittle 3, Griffin, George, Cummings, May; SP-none. Saves: M—Cadoux 4; Ansell 1; SP—Lucas 4. Half: M, 15-4.