In the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, winning the regular season merits a pat on the back and the top seed for the playoffs.
For Glenelg Country, which rolled to a 14-1 mark in conference play this spring, obtaining the real hardware meant winning the postseason tournament.
And, courtesy of beating Mercy, 12-7, on May 10 at the Gerstell Academy, the Glenelg Country School girls' lacrosse team did exactly that to capture the program's first IAAM B Conference crown since 2005.
The Dragons, whose season this spring started in the snow and ended in the sunshine, avenged a loss in last year's final.
“That was so upsetting. We didn't want a repeat of that, “ said senior Lizzy Rice. “We knew what we had to do differently this year and mainly it was that we had to come out more focused and confident in our ability.”
All spring Glenelg Country has felt it is a second-half team, and one that is able to adjust to whatever its opponents present. This time, there was no waiting until after halftime to step up; the Dragons did it from the get-go.
Freshman Hannah Glaros won the first draw and Rice scored the Dragons' first goal 23 seconds into the game.
“That was a beautiful shot,” said Glenelg Country School co-coach Paige Walton.
Glenelg Country zipped out to a 4-0 lead and had a 7-2 halftime advantage over Mercy, a team the Dragons had already beaten twice this season.
“We knew this was our game,” said Rice. “We weren't going to let them beat us.”
Deja Hursey, also a senior, said the tone for the game was obvious on the bus ride to Gerstell.
“We had this energy and it was unbelievable,” she said.
Part of the energy comes from the team's cohesiveness.
Hursey said she joined the lacrosse team last year and that it feels like a family.
“I consider these teammates one of my own family. We all work for each other and I think that's why we got the outcome today,” she said.
As with a family, everyone contributed.
“Once one person steps up, everyone steps up,” Walton said. “It's contagious. They are really a close team.”
Kelly Layton had a huge game in goal, making 14 saves, some on point-blank shots.
Although her numbers stand out, she is quick to give credit to her teammates.
“I relied on my defense today,” Layton said. “They knew Mercy's weaknesses and they used that to our advantage.”
Layton credits defenders Julia O'Laughlin, Hursey, Koko Etokebe, TK Olaniyan, Megan Hooper, Rice and Glaros as helping her make a difference.
Mercy took 27 shots in the game, but the Dragons' defense did not let them get in position for many easy ones.
“Our shooting was not the best today,” said Mercy coach Jackie Dysert. “We just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net.”
Caroline Cummings (two goals) topped the Magic's scoring.
Hooper took most of the draws and Glenelg Country held its own at midfield. Although Julia Sheehan led the Dragons' attack with four goals, when Mercy face-guarded her others stepped to the forefront. Rice (three goals), Glaros (two), Alyssa Arnold (two) and Hooper all scored.
“We all did it together,” Walton said. “Everyone needed to be a part of every game we played this season to [earn] first seed and obviously to finish it.”
Walton said her team has the smallest squad (15 players) in the conference.
“It is such a great feeling for this team to finally win the championship. It is the greatest gift I could have asked for,” Rice said.
Glenelg Country School 12, Mercy 7
Goals: GCS — Julia Sheehan 4, Lizzy Rice 3, Alyssa Arnold 2, Hannah Glaros 2, Megan Hooper. M — Caroline Cummings 2, Katie Yeagle, Kaitlyn Kozlowski, McKayla Grasham, Haley Workmeister, Riley Rumbley.
Assists: GCS — Alyssa Arnold 2. M — Kaitlyn Kozlowski.
Saves: GCS — Kelly Layton 14. M — Taylor Sisk 5.
Halftime: Glenelg Country, 7-2.