ELDERSBURG — Century coach Becky Groves said in order to be the best, you have to play the best.
McDonogh, which has lost only one game over the past 10 years, has been the Knights’ final opponent of the regular season for the last few years. The undefeated Eagles traveled to Century on Thursday and used a second-half romp to beat the Knights 14-7.
The Knights saw their 12-game winning streak snapped against the private-school power, and the Eagles pulled off a perfect 18-0 regular season record with the win.
“We like to get a challenge in to really see what we need to work on,” Groves said. “We have a good week before we play again so we have the time to see what we need toward on because once playoffs start rolling, you don’t have much time for practice.”
Century (12-2) got three goals from junior attacker Christina Haspert and two goals and an assist from sophomore midfielder Demma Hall. McDonogh was led by senior Blair Pearre’s five goals, and senior Julia Dorsey added two goals and an assist.
Freshman goalie Brooke Harper was the Knights’ spark on defense against the Eagles — she made six saves, including two free-position shots. Groves said any time Harper makes a save, it creates a momentum for the entire team.
“It was good for me, but for the team too to have those saves because they were important to the score,” Harper said.
Century led McDonogh early before the Eagles scored six straight goals to take a 7-2 lead through about 13 minutes of play. Eagles senior midfielder Emma Schettig scored twice in that run and Dorsey scored off the free position after intercepting a Century pass in the air to keep the ball on offense.
Haspert scored her second goal of the night off the free position to trim the deficit to 7-3 with 10:52 left in the first half. A connection between Maddie Bates and Haspert brought the Knights within three with 2:53 to go and the Eagles called a timeout.
Pearre scored her third goal off a feed from Nellie Blaze and McDonogh took an 8-5 lead into the break. Harper stopped an early free-position shot from Dorsey and 1 minute, 14 seconds later, Maddie Bates scored to bring the Knights within two at 8-6.
The Eagles took it from there, however, and scored the next six goals before Haspert's free-position tally cut the Eagles’ lead by seven with 2:12 to go.
“We definitely stayed in the game a lot longer than we have the last two years,” Groves said. “The last two years they’ve really beaten us bad where in the first five minutes, the game was pretty much over. I thought we hung around for much longer, even in that second half, and I think we made them work to get their shots. It wasn't just them beating one person, our defense was a unit today and it took them work to get those shots.”
McDonogh commanded the draw, winning 17 to Century’s six. Eagles coach Taylor Cummings said she has tried to make the draw more of a team effort between the team’s four centers in Kayla Abernathy, Ella Little, Kemper Robinson, and Dakota Uy.
The Eagles had their 198-game winning streak snapped last year in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game against Notre Dame Prep. They’ve won 215 of their last 216 games, and haven’t lost to a public-school foe since a team from New York clipped them April 11, 2009.
“It’s been a long season and 18 games is tough but I think with the delays and everything, it could have been a recipe for disaster,” Cummings said. “I’m really proud of the way our girls bounced back, especially after a strong first-half showing from Century. They really came together as a team and did things just a little sharper in the second half so I’m proud of their effort, for sure.”
Goals: M-Blair Pearre 5, Julia Dorsey 2, Lila Huddles, Kemper Robinson 2, Dani Jacobstein 2, Emma Schettig 2; C-Madison Plitt, Maddie Bates, Christina Haspert 3, Demma Hall 2.
Assists: M-Dorsey, Huddles, Izzy Marsh, Caroline Godine 2; C-Bates, Hall.
Saves: M-7 (Hammerschlag 4, Geoghan 3); C-6 (Brooke Harper).
Halftime: McDonogh, 8-5.