After Tuesday’s one-goal loss in the final minute to Glenelg Country, a game the Notre Dame Prep girls’ lacrosse team was outnumbered in ground balls, coach Mac Ford implemented a new drill for Wednesday’s practice.
The 2018 Baltimore Sun All-Metro girls’ lacrosse Coach of the Year divided his team into groups of four and had players lie on their stomachs, anticipating where the ball was heading. When the ball was tossed, players sprung to their feet, and the first to secure the ground ball won the drill.
This rekindled focus helped No. 3 Notre Dame Prep turn right around Thursday evening and brush past No. 7 Marriotts Ridge, 15-9, at Yeardley Love Field. After a missed draw control cost the Blazers their first conference loss of the season Tuesday, they finished Thursday by securing six of the game’s last nine draw controls.
“We did a much better job today than what we did two days ago,” Ford said. “We went after it [in practice] yesterday. Our focus was completely different.”
Notre Dame Prep (12-3 overall) scored the game’s first two goals, thanks to a Sydni Rosa strike five minutes into regulation and Nancy Halleron’s free position score two minutes later. The Blazers’ lead then grew to 5-2 with 8:35 left in the first half when Ellie Curry netted her first of three goals.
But, like what happened Tuesday, Marriotts Ridge secured the ensuing draw control and found the back of the twine, as Eloise Clevenger’s goal a minute later pulled the Mustangs within one.
Marriotts Ridge’s deficit then became 5-4 after Gracie Kennedy’s goal, but that’s when Notre Dame Prep upped the ante. Kailey Pelkey’s tally with 20 seconds left in the first half gave the Blazers a 6-4 lead at the intermission and sparked a four-goal swing.
Liza Regan scored a minute into the second half to make it 7-4, and Pelkey and Curry piled on strikes to push Notre Dame Prep’s advantage to 9-4.
“We didn’t turn the ball over; that’s the big thing,” Ford said. “We handled the ball. We moved the ball against their pressure [defense] and were able to find some easy looks.”
Victoria Hensh (six goals) got Marriotts Ridge within 11-8 with 8:27 to go, but behind purposeful work of Halleron in the circle, the Blazers didn’t let this one slip out of grasp.
“Wednesday was a really intense practice but I feel a lot better about our offense after today,” Curry said. “It’s finally starting to click.”
Restored optimism comes at the right time for Notre Dame Prep, as it faces St. Mary’s on its senior day on Tuesday and then McDonogh Thursday night at US Lacrosse’s Tierney Field.
“McDonogh is the team [in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference], but we’re focused on one game at a game,” Ford said. “We can only concentrate on St. Mary’s. After today, it gives me a lot of confidence.”
concentrate on St. Mary’s. After today, it gives me a lot of confidence.”
Marriotts Ridge (7-2), meanwhile, struggled to navigate Notre Dame Prep’s pressure defense, having possessions end in turnovers — some even unforced — rather than quality looks at the net. The Mustangs will look to bounce back Tuesday against Atholton.
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“We turned the ball over way too many times, and against a team like that you can’t afford to not be passing and catching,” Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady said. “At this point, fortunately for us, [Notre Dame Prep] is a good team. We’re happy we had the opportunity to play such a strong, competitive team, but we have to be able to recognize we turned over the ball and we have to own those mistakes.”