Ranked No. 24 in the most recent USA Today Top 25 list, No. 2 in the area and riding a 16-game winning streak, Loch Raven's defending 2A state champion girls soccer team is under increasing pressure.
But you wouldn't know it considering the poise with which the Raiders continue to dismantle their opponents, having outscored them, 45-2.
Yesterday, Loch Raven (8-0) visited No. 10 Mercy, its toughest foe to date, and again the Raiders dominated, hammering an injury-riddled squad by a 25-5 shots-on-goal margin en route to a 2-0 nonleague victory and their sixth shutout.
This against a team that twice has played top-ranked McDonogh, tying it once, 2-2, and losing to it last Friday, 2-0.
"Our kids are showing a lot of confidence, knowing they can control the ball," said Raiders coach Lou Menegatti, last year's All-Metro Coach of the Year.
Friday, the Raiders will play host to 1A-2A Baltimore County League rival Catonsville (6-0).
Yesterday was yet another game in which the Raiders (7-3-2) had their way as junior striker Courtney Martinez (nine goals, four assists) capitalized on two defensive miscues by Mercy sweeper Krista Graf.
The first score came just five minutes into the game on a 14-yard, left-footed shot. Martinez stole the ball from a dribbling Graf, got behind her, then slipped an arcing ball just under the crossbar over keeper Lisa Olszewski's head.
And when Graf mis-kicked a long ball from midfield six minutes into the second half, Martinez pounced on it again. This time, she drew keeper Jennifer Bailey (four saves) out of the goal before beating her with a kick into the net's corner.
"Our scouting report said to watch for their defenders passing the ball back and forth before booting it," said Martinez, who is the daughter of Tippy Martinez, the former Baltimore Orioles pitcher.
"Robyn Harry and I just waited for their mis-kicks, and that's when I took my opportunity."
For Mercy, Mary Lee Pearl hit a post in the first half and Tina Steck (13 goals, two assists) just missed putting a ball inside the far post.