A glance at their record doesn't begin to tell the story of this year's McDonogh Eagles. Despite four quick losses, the area's fifth-ranked team has spent the early weeks of its season facing some of the best high school teams America has to offer.
Yesterday against visiting Westminster, the experience was quite evident in a 5-0 win.
Jeanetta McGettigan had two goals and an assist, and Ali Andrzejewski had two goals, as the Eagles easily avenged last year's 3-2 loss to their Carroll County foes.
Following early season losses to three of the nation's top-12 teams, each by a goal, the Eagles wanted to break out.
"After losing some games to some really good teams, we were definitely ready to win," said McGettigan.
"I think we're playing with a confidence," said Eagles coach Maurice Boylan Jr., whose t am recently completed a highly competitive tournament in Tennessee. "We came away from Tennessee knowing something about ourselves and absolutely believing that we can play with any nationally ranked team."
McGettigan played a key role in helping her team grab the early lead. After barely missing a goal five minutes in, when her liner from 30 yards out bounced off one of the crossbar's corners, she gave McDonogh a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute by tapping in Jackie Reid's cross across the goal mouth.
The Eagles made it 2-0, when Andrzejewski dribbled to the middle and fired a shot off the hands of goalie Amy Ridgely, and 3-0 with seconds to play before halftime on Andrzejewski's goal off a feed from Lisa Zanti.
"It was definitely important to get the lead early," said McGettigan, a former Westminster student who transferred to McDonogh before her sophomore year. "All of them are my friends, so it was great to score a couple goals."
Westminster, led by All-State midfielder Mandy Komar, did get off a barrage of shots early in the second half, but the majority had little behind them.
"We got shots, but we didn't really take on defenders and took the first opportunity we had," said Owls coach Bryan Shumaker. "A lot of shots but nothing of consequence."
A year ago at Westminster, McDonogh outshot the Owls, 41-5, but failed to take advantage in a shocking 3-2 loss.
This time, Shumaker said the difference was attitude.
"The intensity wasn't there," said Shumaker. "McDonogh obviously has a great soccer tradition. I was a little worried that we'd come down here and play their tradition and not the game."
The Owls hope to use games like yesterday's much the same way McDonogh has used its meetings with national contenders.
"That's why we schedule these teams," said Shumaker. "They're going to show us exactly what we can expect, come playoff time."