What a difference a year makes.
Last season, Glenelg's girls lacrosse team lost to Mercy and North Carroll by seven and six goals, respectively. But not this year.
The 14th-ranked Gladiators defeated North Carroll, 13-7, last Tuesday, and two days later outlasted No. 13 Mercy, 13-12.
Glenelg (3-0) got off to a good start against North Carroll in a game played in sloppy conditions because of rain. Stephanie Howell scored twice to help the Gladiators to a 3-1 lead and they increased it to 9-2 at halftime.
"We kept together and came through," said Glenelg junior Kelly O'Connor. "Beating North Carroll gave us more confidence."
Visiting Mercy presented the Gladiators a tougher challenge.
"Their stick skills were infinitely better than ours," said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid, "It took a total team effort to beat them and we got it."
Glenelg took a 5-2 lead with 13: 11 left in the first half, but Mercy responded by scoring the next six goals for an 8-5 halftime lead.
"They just took over and did a lot of back-door cuts," Kincaid said. "We couldn't get the defense set up like we wanted to."
Glenelg's defense tightened and its offense got untracked in the second half.
"The midfield suddenly opened up and we were able to get fast breaks," Kincaid said.
Trailing 9-6, the Gladiators scored the next six goals -- two each by O'Connor and Sarah Frederick, and one each from Lindsay Lewis and Erin Edell -- for a 12-9 advantage with 9: 58 left.
The Magic rallied to tie the game at 12 with 5: 26 remaining.
O'Connor drew a foul with 31 seconds left and was awared an eight-meter shot. Her shot was off, but she was hit in the head by a defender's stick and got another chance three seconds later.
"It was crazy," O'Connor said. "I could hear everyone say, 'Come on Kelly, you've got to make it.' The pressure was on."
O'Connor didn't let the second chance slip away, and scored the game-winner.
"The first time I tried to make the defender overplay me," O'Connor said about the free-position shot. "The second time I went right at the goal."
Kincaid called it "a big win for us," and credited assistant coach Julie Radnof with solidifying the defense in the second half.
Radnof is in her third season as a paid assistant. Kincaid said when the county approved paid assistants two years ago, it made her job more manageable.
"It meant that I didn't have to run everything," Kincaid said. "It's allowed me to concentrate on the attack. I feel like in the last three seasons we've been able to build the program up."
League play begins on Tuesday. Here are the current overall standings in girls lacrosse:
Glenelg 3-0; Mount Hebron 1-0; Centennial 1-1; Atholton 1-1; Long Reach 1-2; Wilde Lake 1-2; River Hill 0-1; Howard 0-2; Oakland Mills 0-2; Hammond 0-3.
Five matches into the season, River Hill and Centennial are the only unbeaten boys teams. They meet tomorrow at River Hill.
Mount Hebron and Wilde Lake are undefeated in the girls division, and they are scheduled to meet next Monday.
Here are the county standings after Friday's matches:
BOYS -- River Hill 5-0; Centennial 5-0; Wilde Lake 4-1; Mount Hebron 4-1; Glenelg 2-3; Atholton 2-3, Hammond 2-3; Howard 1-4; Long Reach 0-5; Oakland Mills 0-5.
GIRLS -- Mount Hebron 5-0; Wilde Lake 5-0; Centennial 4-1; River Hill 3-2 Glenelg 3-2; Atholton 2-3; Hammond 2-3; Oakland Mills 1-4; Howard 0-5; Long Reach 0-5.