Mt. Hebron junior Ellie Miller discusses the Vikings’ dominating win over Atholton on March 27. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG)
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — As Mt. Hebron girls lacrosse senior Erin Demek drove down the left side towards goal, Ellie Miller knew where she needed to be.
Having played together for years, the duo has connected for goals on this sequence before. Demek runs right past Miller, who rolls towards the net and receives a pass from Demek for a point-blank shot. “Pick and slip,” Miller called it after her team defeated Atholton, 17-3, on Tuesday afternoon.
And about midway through the first half, the play worked to perfection. Demek beat her defender, and when a Raiders player left Miller to come and help, lofted the ball over her head to her younger teammate. Facing a 1-on-1 opportunity with the goalie, Miller wound up and successfully placed her attempt into the bottom-left corner of the net.
The strike put the Vikings ahead, 10-1, and epitomized how they were able to secure their second blowout win to start the season. Demek and Miller scored four goals apiece.
“That’s the benefit of having the opportunity to play together for a little while, so they definitely know one another’s tendencies,” coach Lindsay Menton said. “We’ll certainly be leaning on them as leaders in the attack and also communicating things in as we work on developing the system that we’ve been using.”
Demek sparked Mt. Hebron (2-0 county, 2-0 overall) in the first half with five points (three goals and two assists), but she was far from the only player producing for a team that built a 13-2 lead before intermission. Eight Vikings scored in the opening frame.
Aside from Demek and Miller, freshman Ashley Unkenholz finished with a hat trick while sophomore Christina Bodziak scored twice. Each underclassman also had three assists.
“We all did it as a unit,” Miller said about her team’s offensive production. “That was a really big focal point, just to play together, and I don’t think anyone really stood out. I think we all worked together and all played on an equal level.
As for Atholton (1-1, 1-2), first-year coach Laura Foerster credited her “incredibly young” team’s ability to force some turnovers and intercept a few passes against Mt. Hebron’s explosive attack. After all, half of the Atholton’s roster are either freshmen or sophomores— including the majority of its starters — so the Raiders are still in the instruction and installment process.
Nevertheless, Foerster sees the learning curve for her team trending in a steep upward direction, which has her excited for the rest of the 2018 campaign.
“When I’m working with these younger kids that are skilled, they’re literally soaking in up everything that I’m teaching them,” Foerster said. “It’s the instruction that I’m giving them, taking everything in and then they’re running it.”
But Tuesday afternoon, that effort was not enough to match Mt. Hebron’s production. The scoring slowed after intermission, yet the Vikings continued to increase their advantage. Miller scored twice more, her third and fourth scores of the contest.
And with 3 minutes, 43 seconds left in regulation, Demek capped the victory with her fourth goal of the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, it came off a feed from Miller.
“We have a good relationship on the field because we know each other and we communicate,” Miller said about her and Demek. “I’m like ‘I’m going to cut for you, I’m going to set this pick.’ … Our communication is a really big factor of working together. I think we all have the ability to do that, and that’s what we’re working on.”