ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Mount Hebron's No. 1 girls lacrosse team took its first loss of the season remarkably well -- especially considering that the Vikings had not lost in 63 straight games and that none of the players had ever experienced a loss.
After falling, 10-9, yesterday to Northern Virginia power St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, the Vikings shed no tears. They were disappointed but philosophical after the school's first loss since April 19, 1998, a 13-7 defeat by St. Mary's.
"It's not the end of the world," said Vikings junior Melissa McCarthy. "It had to happen sometime."
It happened because the Saints (16-1), down 7-6 at halftime, dominated second-half possession, holding the Vikings (12-1-1) scoreless until the final 43 seconds, when Stephanie Scurachio scored the first of her two last-minute goals. But the Saints' Kate Jerde put away the clincher just 12 seconds later, off the draw.
"We couldn't get it together like we usually do," said McCarthy. "We didn't click today. We had a lot of turnovers, they were just out-and-out better than we were on ground balls, and they played a better game. There's no excuses."
The Saints, third in Lacrosse magazine's national high-school rankings last season behind the Vikings and Bryn Mawr, had lost their only other meeting with Mount Hebron, 19-13, two years ago. The Vikings and Saints were ranked 1-2, respectively, by the Washington Post.
"The last time we played Mount Hebron, we weren't used to playing teams like that," said Jerde, a senior whose team has won eight straight Washington-area Independent School League titles. "We've wanted to prove that we could beat them."
Only one other time this season have the Vikings been held in single digits -- a 9-9 tie with No. 4 Bryn Mawr. Yesterday, they could not get their high-powered attack into gear, because they couldn't get the ball. The Vikings took just six shots in the second half; the Saints fired 13.
"They were beating us to every ground ball," said Vikings coach Chris Robinson. "They were faster in just about every position. We just didn't have the ball on the offensive end nearly enough to make something happen."
The Saints, whose only loss came, 7-6, to No. 3 Roland Park on April 21, were composed on attack, working for good shots, but the Vikings often hurried their attack.
"They were just really patient with the ball," said Vikings defender Laura Carper. "I guess they knew our defense, because they kept connecting on their passes, and their back-door cuts were really hard to defend."
The Vikings scored on seven of their last nine first-half shots for a 7-6 halftime lead. But they did not get another shot for nearly 10 minutes of the second half. By then, Jerde had tied the score for the fifth time, at 7-7.
The game went into the last four minutes still tied, before Kathleen Miller netted back-to-back goals for the Saints. She scored on a free position with 3:58 to go and then got open in the middle for a pass from Kristen Zimmer that made the score 9-7 with 1:06 left.