Mount Hebron at Marriotts Ridge Howard County girls lacrosse on Friday, May 5 in Marriottsville.
Everything came together for Marriotts Ridge in its regular season finale against rival Mt. Hebron Friday.
The defense swarmed the Vikings' attackers allowing just three goals on 10 shots against, while the offense provided a quick 5-0 cushion to propel the eventual 13-3 victory.
"To be honest this has been a season of ups and downs for us even within wins," said Mustangs coach Amanda Brady, whose team finished the year, 6-1 in county and 11-3 overall. "We are where we need to be right now going into playoffs, so this is something we've been working towards at the end of the season, but especially honing in on it this past week. And the way they just played is the way we expect them to be playing, so we're excited that we can actually see that execution take place."
Marriotts Ridge was dominant all over the field, especially within the first 10 minutes of the game. It kept possession during most of the stretch, picking up virtually every ground ball and kept the Vikings from settling in on offense until midway through the half due to its pressure on rides and advantage on the circle.
"Cassie Evans cleaned house on ground balls today, which was awesome. But overall, ground balls, 50-50 balls, that's something we've preached here," Brady said. "It has to be blue. It has to be white, whichever color we're wearing. Those little things make the big difference."
Evans, and the rest of the Mustangs' 10 seniors (Caroline Blalock, Sarah Blalock, Bri Held, Caitlin Ohnmacht, Casey Sullivan, Lily Kennedy, Hannah Shim, Camilla Ranta and Abby Hammond) were honored prior to the game. With the added factor of senior night, Marriotts Ridge came out with a ton of energy from the very first draw, which ultimately set the tone for the game.
"It is exciting to see all 10 of them out on the field together playing together as one, whether it's been on JV or varsity and over the year's they've gained a lot of confidence," Brady said. "I think seeing that performance tonight is something that kind of propels us into playoffs, which is exciting, as a whole team."
Sarah Blalock brought down the opening draw for Marriotts Ridge, which put its first shot on Mt. Hebron's Jen Schaaf (seven saves) seconds into the contest. Schaaf made the stop, but the Vikings had trouble clearing their zone because of the Mustangs' heavy pressure on their ride.
Casey Sullivan forced a turnover near the sideline before Mt. Hebron (4-3 county, 9-5 overall) reached midfield, which ultimately led to Marriotts Ridge's first goal.
Caroline Blalock found Ohnmacht cutting through the 8-meter moments later. Ohnmacht corralled the pass and buried her shot to put her team up, 1-0.
Ohnmacht gained possession on the ensuing draw and this time Caroline Blalock finished at the offensive end, putting away a nice feed from Erin Cooke.
Blalock then added her second goal about a minute later, scooping up her own rebound in front of the net to extend the cushion to three.
Kennedy scored on a free position about shortly after and then assisted Cooke to cap off the 5-0 run with 15:54 remaining.
Vikings' coach Lindsay Menton called a timeout immediately following the Mustangs' fifth consecutive goal and the break helped regroup her team, as they finally put an end to the run with about 13 minutes remaining in the half.
"I think from there we kind of kept it, until the very end there, a little closer, going goal for goal with them," said Mention. "But obviously, it didn't seem that way because they had a nice five goal margin from the get-go."
Mt. Hebron made sure to move the ball around swiftly on its second offensive possession ultimately leading to a shooting space call, which put Kaitlin Rice on the center hash for a free position. Rice made the extra pass to Christina Bodziak who found the back of the net and got the Vikings on the board.
Marriotts Ridge countered with a man-advantage goal following a yellow card by Mt. Hebron, but Pallozzi responded with a free position score and cut the deficit to 6-2 with 10:33 remaining before the break.
However, Blalock recorded one more goal with 1:43 left to push the lead back to five at halftime.
"Honestly, even at the half I was telling the girls I was really impressed with how we played even after the timeout," Menton said. "It's just unfortunately we got ourselves into that hole and that was all too familiar, and it is tough to dig your self out. It is definitely not insurmountable we talked about, but again it just re-emphasizing the importance of coming out and matching the level of play and bringing you're A-game."
The second half went scoreless until Sullivan's free position goal with 18:51 remaining ignited a 3-0 Mustangs run.
Kennedy and Bailey Christianson each added free position goals before Lexi Arens put an end to the Vikings' scoreless stretch with 9:28 left.
Mt. Hebron couldn't climb out of the hole however, with the Mustangs defense clamping down to hold the damage to just three.
"Again, [the defense] has had its ups and downs. We've been struggling in some capacities and today they did what we needed them to do," Brady said. "They were quick to slide, sticks up, causing turnovers whether it would be from a crash or a good double, which are all the basics that we expect them to be doing at the end of the season."
Caroline Blalock led all scorers with four goals, while also adding an assist. Kennedy added three goals and an assist, while Sullivan finished with a goal and two assists. Olivia Ranta finished with eight saves in net for the Mustangs.
"It was awesome. Especially we had a running clock at the end and just to finish the regular season with all the people I've been playing with for years, especially against our biggest rival Mt. Hebron it was a great feeling," Caroline Blalock said. "It is great for us, because heading into playoffs it just give us great momentum."
The Vikings are ready for a clean slate following a turbulent regular season, which saw some huge victories and a couple disappointing defeats. But according to Menton, they are looking forward to the challenge of going through a tough 3A/2A South section.
"We always emphasize the postseason is a fresh start," Menton said. "Fortunately, or unfortunately depends on who you ask, we get to see a lot of the top competition we see during the regular season, but I think we embrace that and we are exciting about that opportunity. Who doesn't like a fresh, clean slate? A new opportunity is here and we're ready to step up to the plate."
Region seeding for both boys and girls will take place on Monday with the quarterfinal round beginning on Wednesday.
Marriotts Ridge 13, Mt. Hebron 3
MR (6-1 county, 11-3 overall), MH (4-3, 9-5)
Goals: MR — C. Blalock 4, L. Kennedy 3, Cooke 1, Sullivan 1, S. Blalock 1, Ohnmacht 1, Thompson 1, Christianson 1; MH — Arens 1, Bodziak 1, Pallozzi 1.
Assists: MR — Sullivan 2, L. Kennedy 1, C. Blalock 1, Cooke 1, Simpson; MH — Rice 1.
Saves: MR — Ranta 8; MH — Schaaf 7, Ryan 1.
Halftime: 7-2, Marriotts Ridge.
Around the league:
Centennial 15, River Hill 1
The Eagles ended the regular season on a two-game winning streak after defeating the visiting Hawks Friday.
Centennial jumped out to a 10-1 halftime lead and held River Hill scoreless in the following 25 minutes to collect its eighth county victory of the year.
Laurie Bracey and Rasa Welsh led the way offensively for the Eagles, scoring four goals apiece. Claudia Pilcher followed with three goals and an assist, while Marissa Lagera added two goals and an assist. Sarah Thorman made two saves in net.
Julia Smith scored the Hawks' lone goal, while Gaby Hamburger picked up the assist on the play. Annie Maloney registered 11 saves.
C (8-3 county, 9-5 overall), RH (5-6, 6-6)
Goals: C — Bracey 4, Welsh 4, Pilcher 3, Lagera 2, Griffin 1, Pister 1; RH — Smith 1.
The Gladiators clinched sole possession of the county title after a dominating victory at home in their regular season finale against the Gators Friday.
Alayna Pagnotta led the way offensively, finishing with six goals and three assists, while Lindsay Letellier added two goals and seven assists. Anna Callahan followed with four goals, while Georgia Esmond recorded three goals and an assist.
Haley Tiller and Juliet King had a goal apiece for the Gators.
G (7-0 county, 14-0 overall), Re (6-5, 7-7)
Goals: G — Pagnotta 6, Callahan 4, Esmond 3, O'Brien 2, L. Letellier 2, Duncan 2, Renehan 1; Re — Tiller 1, King 1.
Assists: G — L. Letellier 7, Pagnotta 3, Esmond 1, Renehan 1.