Maisy Clevenger looks back on the 2020 lacrosse season as largely a missed opportunity.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the entire regular season and playoffs of what would have been Clevenger’s freshman campaign for Marriotts Ridge, spoiling a chance for her to suit up alongside her older sister Eloise for the first time on a lacrosse field.
Yet, at the same time, Clevenger has gained enough perspective over the last 15 months to realize that even the limited time she got alongside her teammates during that preseason was invaluable.
“I think for me, getting that taste of it in practice and in a few scrimmages last year made me more excited and even more motivated,” she said. “I remember the confidence I got from our first scrimmage, being able to create for the offense and seeing everything kind of flowing together. And just for all of us getting a chance to play together, learn the plays and how things are supposed to work … it prepared us to be ready to go right from the start this year.”
Clevenger certainly looked like a player ready to go from Day One this spring, scoring four goals in a come-from-behind win over Mt. Hebron to open the season. She rarely slowed down the rest of the way, finishing as the county’s leading scorer among the public schools with 49 points (41 goals and eight assists) in 11 games while helping lead Marriotts Ridge to the program’s first state championship since 2014.
For her efforts, Clevenger has been named the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier Player of the Year — the first time a sophomore has garnered the honor since Marriotts Ridge’s Zoe Stuckenberg in 2011.
“There were absolutely high expectations based on what we saw in those couple weeks last year, and she lived up to all of them,” Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady said. “She’s one of those players that does it on both ends, really excelling between the 30s. And, as the season went on, she gained confidence and learned how to adjust to what other teams were trying to do to throw her off her game.”
Part of Clevenger being the complete package for the Mustangs was her ability to do things other than just score. She also finished the year with team highs of 46 ground balls and 38 draw controls.
After a brief stint taking the draw early in the year, she settled into a spot on the circle and used her speed and athleticism to consistently win her team possession.
For all the successes this year, though, there was also adversity. A 18-6 loss against Glenelg on May 19, spoiling Marriotts Ridge’s hopes of a county title, was at the top of the list in terms of defining moments as a team.
“It was kind of just a big reality check,” Clevenger said. “We were winning all our games [before that] and were on a high, and that loss brought us back down. It made us realize that we had to pull together to improve if we wanted to reach our potential.”
Individually, Clevenger points to a narrow early playoff victory over Centennial — in which she scored just one goal — as a gut-check moment.
“I was face-guarded that Centennial game and I knew afterward that I could have done more. I should have done more,” Clevenger said. “That was kind of my wake up call that my team was counting on me to be better than that.”
The next game, in the region finals against Mt. Hebron, Clevenger scored five goals and scooped up a season-high 10 ground balls. She went on to add six goals against Huntingtown in the state semifinals and five in the state-championship victory over C. Milton Wright.
“She proved what she is capable of during that playoff run, and I think, as coaches, we started to really see what our strengths were and part of that meant implementing offensive sets that allowed Maisy to drive,” Brady said. “She really paved the way for our offense.”
Brady added that Clevenger was a leader without an ego.
“She’s so humble and isn’t the kind of player going out looking to carry the team. But when needed, she steps up to the plate.”
Clevenger has been busy this summer as a member of the M&D 2023 team. College coaches are allowed to officially reach out starting in September, and she has been doing her best to impress the throngs of recruiters lining the sidelines at club showcases tournaments.
Big picture, it’s all about following the current path.
“I obviously want to keep improving, but this is the best I’ve ever played so I feel like I’m on the right track,” Clevenger said. “I have more confidence than I have ever had in previous years, and I think it shows when I’m on the field.”
FIRST TEAM ALL-COUNTY
Kendall Dean, Atholton junior. Dean exploded out of the gates this spring, scoring six goals in a season-opening win over Wilde Lake, and she never slowed down. She scored multiple times in all eight of the team’s games on the way to season totals of 33 goals and four assists. Her 37 points ranked her fifth among Howard County public school players. Dean had a total of three games with six goals.
“Kendall lives, breathes and eats lacrosse,” coach Amy Davis Hall said. “Her passion for this sport is truly unmatched, and it shows in her drive on the field. She’s willing and able to score under any circumstance, and her intensity is fire.”
Emma Kennedy, Glenelg junior. The leading scorer for the Gladiators this spring — building on a freshman year in 2019 in which she had 29 points — Kennedy finished her junior year with 27 goals and four assists for the county champions. She kicked off the season with five goals and an assist in a shutout win over Centennial and then followed that up with six goals in a convincing victory over Mt. Hebron. She had three or more points in seven of Glenelg’s eight games.
“She’s a fearless attacker with a powerful shot,” coach Alex Pagnotta said. “The way our offense is set up, anyone can emerge as a scorer, yet Emma consistently stood out because of her ability to put herself in position and finish.”
Louisa Lagera, Centennial senior. Lagera was among the county’s top 10 scorers as a second-team All-County performer in 2019 and earned herself a similar position on the scoring leaderboard this spring. Her 30 points (20 goals and 10 assists) put her in a tie for 10th among public school players and was first on her team. She scored multiple goals against every team the Eagles faced except Glenelg and found the back of the net four times in a game against River Hill (twice) and Mt. Hebron.
“Her teammates look up to her for her experience, selflessness on the field and her ability to find the back of the net,” coach Ellen Johnson said. “Her stats from this short season make a statement, but her hard work and dedication this season are what make her a standout player. Her circle play, transition defense and attack leadership made an impact this season and allowed us to remain competitive.”
Lauren LaPointe, Glenelg sophomore. Part of a young Gladiators’ core that played a huge role in an undefeated regular season, LaPointe finished second on the team this spring with 29 points (18 goals and 11 assists). She had three goals and two assists on four different occasions, including in the team’s victory over Marriotts Ridge that clinched the county title.
“She’s so tenacious offensively, with such a super powerful shot and flawless technique,” coach Alex Pagnotta said. “We saw enough of Lauren those first couple weeks as a freshman last year to know that she was going to be special, and she delivered on that promise this year.”
Molly Maloney, River Hill junior. As the season progressed, Maloney got better and so did the Hawks as a team. It was a seven-goal, one-assist effort from the junior that helped River Hill earn its first win of the year to close the regular season. Then she had five or more points in playoff wins over Reservoir and Atholton to help the team secure the program’s first region championship. For the season, Maloney was second among the county’s public school players in points with 41 (28 goals and 13 assists).
“Molly is shifty, speedy and sees the field extremely well. Her ability to set up her teammates as well as herself is hard to stop when it comes to finishing and feeding,” coach Amy Weinberg said. “She is a great leader and is always pushing herself and her teammates to be better.”
Ashley Unkenholz, Mt. Hebron senior. Unkenholz was one of the county’s top 20 scorers as a sophomore in 2019, finishing with 43 points in 17 games. She continued her progression this spring as an upperclassman, finishing with 40 points (34 goals and six assists) in just nine games. She had five or more goals in wins over Centennial, Howard and Westminster to go along with four goals and three assists in a victory over Atholton. In the game against Westminster in the playoffs, it was Unkenholz who scored the game-winner in overtime.
“Ashley came into this season with something to prove. Putting big numbers up in almost every game, she was a dynamic and creative attacker with the speed and ability to run midfield for us as well at times,” coach Sam Brookhart said. “Not only this season, but throughout Ashley’s career as a Viking, she has been put in situations at the end of games to have tying or game-winning goals where she followed through every time.”
Sam Brothers, Howard junior. Brothers was a do-everything midfielder for the Lions, leading the team in goals (17), points (25), caused turnovers (11) and draw controls (42). The junior captain was a starter as a freshman and was improved in almost every area this spring. Among her best games came in the team’s playoff victory over Glen Burnie in which she scored a season-high four goals.
“Sam truly embodied being a leader on and off the field. She was an incredibly versatile player and plays with confidence in any scenario,” coach Katelyn Joyce said. “Sam continuously kept the possessions for us with her draw controls.
Molly Flynn, Atholton senior. Coach Amy Davis Hall said Flynn was the MVP for a Raiders team that won four straight games to start the year and finished 5-3.
“Molly is the glue that holds our team together,” Davis Hall said. “Not only is she a highly skilled midfielder with the ability to dominate both sides of the field, but she’s our point guard and quarterback — a true leader. The entire team leans on Molly and looks to her for direction.”
Flynn, who was a second-team All-County selection as a sophomore in 2019, finished second on the team in goals (22), assists (seven), points (29) and draw controls (21) this year. In a playoff win over Long Reach, Flynn had season highs of six goals and three assists.
Natalie Held, Marriotts Ridge senior. Few players progressed as much in the last two years as Held, who went from being a rotational player as a sophomore to the workhorse in the middle of the field for the state-champion Mustangs as a senior. She finished second on the team this spring in ground balls (28) and became a go-to player on the draw (19 draw controls), while also contributing four goals and two assists offensively.
“She digs deep and does the dirty work, up and down the field. And while she doesn’t always have the stats, she is always making plays,” coach Amanda Brady said. “Whether it was second slides or making space for her teammates, we counted on her every single minute. She’s just an unbelievable athlete who never slows down.”
Haley Kampert, Mt. Hebron senior. Kampert was a force in the middle of the field for the Vikings, although in a more defensive role than she was while totaling 18 points as a sophomore in 2019. The senior midfielder led the team in draw controls on the season, securing 12 in a victory over Atholton to close the regular season and seven in an overtime playoff triumph over Westminster. She also chipped in with five goals on the season, including two in the game against Atholton.
“Haley is the epitome of hard work and dedication. She wants to do whatever she can to help the team,” coach Samantha Brookhart said. “Haley was willing to switch her role this year to being more of a defensive midfielder to help mold our first-year defensive starters. That didn’t stop her from putting us in good positions during games with winning or directing draw controls.”
Hayley Lettinga, Marriotts Ridge junior. Asked to make a transition this spring from defense to midfield, Lettinga took on the challenge and grew into a standout two-way threat. She developed her shot as the season progressed, finishing third on the team in goals (17) and carrying the team with five scores in an 8-5 playoff win over Centennial. She added a pair of goals in the Mustangs’ state championship victory over C. Milton Wright. Lettinga also finished the season with 24 ground balls and 22 draw controls.
“Hayley is a fabulous defender, but we needed someone to fill a hole in our midline and she stepped up. Considering she hadn’t played midfield since the fourth grade, she progressed an unbelievable amount throughout the season,” coach Amanda Brady said. “She’s confident with the ball in her stick and she’s fast so she was able to carry those skills all the way through the midfield. She had some great dodges and drives from the top, particularly in the playoffs.”
Isa Torres, Glenelg sophomore. Torres combined with Maura Murphy to give the Gladiators the most dominating draw tandem in the region. The team won 20 of 26 draws in a county-championship clinching win over Marriotts Ridge and 15 of 19 in the team’s lone loss in the playoffs against Century in the playoffs. Torres excelled with athleticism, quickness and instincts in the circle.
“She has just incredible stick skills and is so fast,” coach Alex Pagnotta said. “With her ability to leverage her height, to go with her technique that she has had so much time to perfect, she was able to dominate.”
Torres was a capable offensive threat as well, finishing the season with 19 points (14 goals and 5 assists). Arguably her best game came in the win over Marriotts Ridge, where she had four goals, an assist and seven draw controls.
Anna Towle, Glenelg senior. As a sophomore on JV in 2019, Towle finished as the team’s leading scorer with 38 points. This year, with plenty of capable scorers on varsity, she transitioned to lead the backline for the county’s most stingy defense. Glenelg allowed an average of just 3.4 goals against per game — four goals fewer than the next best team. The Gladiators posted three shutouts and didn’t allow an opponent to reach double-digit goals until the region championship game against undefeated Century.
“Anna is a natural defender with the skill of a midfielder, which allowed for quick transition to jumpstart the offense,” coach Alex Pagnotta said.
Jocelyn Torres, Glenelg junior. Torres was the starter in goal for the Gladiators as a freshman on a team that won a region title. Two years later, she was the face of the county’s best defense this spring. She finished the season with 45 saves in eight games, including a season-high 12 while holding eventual state-champion Marriotts Ridge to a season-low six goals during the regular season. Torres also helped Glenelg register three shutouts.
“She emerged as not only our goalie, but a strong vocal leader of the defense who was a wall in the goal,” coach Alex Pagnotta said. “She puts tireless effort into her craft outside of just the day-to-day practices.”
Ava Welsh, Centennial sophomore. Welsh may have been stepping on the field this spring as a varsity starter for the first time, but she certainly never played like it. With poise and composure in all six games that she played, Welsh made double-digit saves in every contest. Some of her best efforts included making a season-high 19 saves against Mt. Hebron and making 12 stops while holding state-champion Marriotts Ridge to its second-lowest offensive total of the season (eight goals) during the playoffs. She finished the season with 83 saves on 166 shots against (50% save percentage).
“Ava carried herself with the poise of a mature and seasoned player. She came into each game ready to dominate regardless of the opponent,” coach Ellen Johnson said. “Her teammates look up to her for her contagiously positive attitude and her insights into the game. Her confidence and control in the net was a major asset. She was the centerpiece of our defensive and transition efforts. She continued to grow and improve throughout the season and despite an injury was able to return and accomplish her personal and team goals.”
IAAM A CONFERENCE ALL-STARS
Jaclyn Marszal, Glenelg Country junior attack. The leading scorer for the Dragons this spring, Marszal finished with 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists). She had several big games, including three goals and three assists in a win over Spalding and three goals and two assists in a playoff victory over Bryn Mawr. She is committed to Notre Dame.
“Jaclyn is a quarterback of our offense,” coach Brian Reese said. “She is a great feeder who can also turn the corner and beat defenders one-v-one with her quickness.”
Neve O’Ferrall, Glenelg Country junior defense. For a Glenelg Country defense that ranked third in the IAAM A Conference in goals against (108), O’Ferrall was the leader in multiple statistical categories. The University of Maryland commit helped Glenelg Country hold 11 of its 15 opponents to eight goals or less.
“She is a tremendous defender who seems to be everywhere on the field,” coach Brian Reese said. “She led our team in ground balls and caused turnovers, and really helped spark our transition with her clearing.”
Maggie Weisman, Glenelg Country junior midfielder. Weisman, who is also committed to play at the University of Maryland, finished as the leading goal-scorer for Glenelg Country this spring with 32 goals (34 total points). Leading her standout performances was a five-goal game in a 13-3 victory over traditional powerhouse McDonogh during the regular season.
“[Maggie is a] strong dodger and shooter who also has great speed,” coach Brian Reese said. “She drew a lot of attention from opposing defenses and also was a big factor on the draw circle.”
SECOND TEAM ALL-COUNTY
Attack: Abby Cudzilo, Centennial sophomore; Audrey Harrington, Mt. Hebron junior; Maggie Merrill, Marriotts Ridge senior; Molly Metz, Glenelg senior; Claire Slade, River Hill junior.
Midfield: Caitlyn Baehr, Glenelg senior; Cassy Montgomery, Wilde Lake sophomore; Maura Murphy, Glenelg junior; Alex Ripkin, Reservoir sophomore; Kathleen Thayer, Reservoir junior; Maddie Vasilios, River Hill sophomore.
Defense: Morgan Lee, Marriotts Ridge senior; Christina Min, Atholton senior; Madison Rozgonyi, Howard senior.
Goalie: Grace Hejeebu, Marriotts Ridge junior.
Reese Allnutt, Glenelg junior attack; Madison Anthony, Howard senior attack/midfield; Jessie Barke, Mt. Hebron junior midfield; Chloe Birkhead, Glenelg senior midfield; Lia Carlesi, Wilde Lake senior midfield; Lauren Fisher, Marriotts Ridge senior midfield; Meghan Goodman, Glenelg senior defense; Alaina Kelly, Centennial junior midfield; Hannah McGrath, Atholton freshman attack; Taylor McManus, Atholton senior midfield; Caroline Meininger, Marriotts Ridge senior defense; Sara Novak, Oakland Mills sophomore midfield; Emily Renehan, Glenelg junior defense; Callie Thompson, River Hill sophomore goalie; Bridget Tiffey, Wilde Lake senior defense; Ellie Wiechert, Howard senior midfield.
Division I: 1. Glenelg (6-0 county, 7-1 overall); 2. Marriotts Ridge* (5-1, 10-1); 3. Mt. Hebron (4-3, 5-4); 4. Centennial (3-4, 3-5); 5. River Hill (1-4, 3-5); 6. Howard (1-5, 2-6.
Division II: 1. Atholton (4-2, 5-3); 2. Reservoir (4-2, 4-3); 3. Oakland Mills (5-3, 5-4); 4. Wilde Lake (4-3, 5-4); 5. Hammond (1-5, 1-6); 6. Long Reach (1-7, 2-8).
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*3A state champion