One concern St. Mary's coach Jerry Tobin had going into yesterday's game at McDonogh was whether his Saints had a go-to player or two that could match an Eagles roster that has its share.
There was no need.
Collectively, the third-ranked Saints attacked relentlessly, scoring three goals in the opening 20 minutes and five unanswered in the first half to dominate the No. 2 Eagles, 5-2.
Everybody had a little piece of the win for the Saints, who got a two-goal, one-assist effort from Mary Key.
"That's as well as we've ever played," said Tobin. "You don't expect to score five goals in any big game, let alone McDonogh. But we got some quick ones early and kept the pressure coming."
Quick being the definitive word. The Saints (6-1) played their typical short game to work the ball out of the back, but once at midfield, sent balls over and through McDonogh's defense to take advantage of their speed up front.
Nicole DiAngelo was the first to get behind the McDonogh defense, running on to a through ball from Key and then slipping a shot under keeper Katie Nelson for a 1-0 lead.
Then it was Key's turn from Melissa Anderson before Kristen Anderson scored with her left foot from 25 yards to make it 3-0.
"We were expecting a tight game and came out really pumped. The first goal came and then the second and then the third -- we just kept going," said senior midfielder Melissa Anderson. "We thought we were a little faster up top, so we took advantage of that as much as we could."
Down, 5-0, with only one shot on goal, the Eagles were stunned at the halftime break.
"Early on, they surprised us with how much speed they had," said McDonogh coach Maurice Boylan. "We're used to them working the ball from the back third to the front third, but they played longer balls at midfield. They were balls that were very much under control and well designed."
St. Mary's senior Athena Gramates, who passed the difficult test of marking standout Ali Andrzejewski, played a key role in controlling the midfield.
"We talked about how important our mental state of mind was and that we can't have any letdowns," she said. "And then we just went out and played hard with a lot of heart."
The Eagles came back in the second half, getting headers from Dee Dziewanowski and Mary Beth Creed midway through with Jeanetta McGettigan assisting both.
"It's a long season. This wasn't a championship game and we didn't consider it one," said Boylan.
He later added: "We'll be back."