Way back on March 13, Notre Dame Prep and Glenelg Country girls lacrosse faced off in both teams’ season opener. The Blazers dominated the first 15 minutes, building a 5-0 cushion, but proceeded to give up that lead in the second half. Alli Bateman then netted the go-ahead goal with 26.9 seconds to play for the Dragons, who held on to beat their nationally ranked opponent, 10-9.
Both programs improved greatly since that game, Notre Dame Prep coach Mac Ford said, so he knew it would be a battle when the schools met in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinals on Wednesday afternoon. Above all, Ford preached maintaining a high level of play throughout the 50-minute showdown. An effective half, he assured, would not be enough to extend the Blazers’ season.
The players responded to that message by playing what Ford called a “really good second half” en route to holding off Glenelg Country, 7-5, to advance to their second straight league championship game. No. 3 seed Notre Dame Prep will oppose top-seeded McDonogh, who beat St. Paul's, 13-8, on Wednesday. The Eagles will be looking for their 199th straight win and 10th consecutive IAAM title.
“We took [McDonogh] to overtime, so that was really cool, and I think that gives our team a lot of confidence going into the game, knowing that we are capable of beating them,” senior attack Hannah Mardiney said. “Our whole team is going to come out ready to go. We’re super excited, and all that excitement will translate into the game.”
Notre Dame Prep (17-4) had won eight straight games leading up to its 11-10 loss to the Eagles on April 30, and the Blazers rediscovered that success Wednesday. They won the first three draws and scored twice within the opening two minutes. The next score went to Glenelg Country, a free-position strike from Shay Ahearn at the 22:37 mark, but the Blazers regained their advantage less than two minutes after that.
Mardiney played a significant role in the early spurt, scoring the first goal and assisting on the second, and her contributions did not stop there. In the first half alone, she notched a hat trick while adding two assists.
Her highlight play came late in the period, when Mardiney, a University of Florida commit, called for the ball and received it on the left wing. Like a basketball player using their pivot foot, she stepped right, then left, and then spun to her right again. By this point, the Glenelg Country defender had overpursued, allowing Mardiney to dip back to her left and towards goal. A shot to the top left corner then pierced the net, giving Notre Dame Prep a 5-3 advantage.
“She’s the best attack in high school lacrosse,” Ford said. “We played all the best teams this year, New York to Canada, and she’s the best.”
Even with Mardiney causing offensive havoc, Glenelg Country (12-5) remained steady defensively and competent in attacking situations. The second-half scoring began with Lindsey Marshall — one of five Dragons players to find the back of the net Wednesday. Her goal came off a free position shot less than five minutes into the period, bringing her team within one.
The squads then traded goals — Colleen Keefe scoring a second time for Notre Dame Prep and freshman Sydney Naylor converting a chance for Glenelg Country — to make the score, 6-5, with about 12 minutes to play. At that point, the Dragons had seized the momentum. They had not created many scoring chances on the afternoon yet only needed one opportunity to net the equalizer.
But before the Dragons could even think about setting up a game-tying possession, the Blazers struck back. Mardiney, thinking back to the team’s halftime speech about “taking the smartest shots possible,” waited patiently for her teammates to come open in the attacking third. Finally, a Dragons defender slid towards her, and that moment arrived. Mardiney’s pass found Hudson Gentile, who finished past goalkeeper Avery Dyer (10 saves) to put the finishing touches on the playoff triumph.
“To hold that team to seven goals was a great effort,” Glenelg Country coach Brian Reese said. “But we wasted some opportunities on some possessions by turning the ball over, or when we went to clear it, we couldn’t clear it and they get the ball and score. We just couldn’t get a couple goals and get on a little run.”
Notre Dame Prep (17-4) — 7, Glenelg Country (12-5) — 5
Goals: NDP — Hannah Mardiney 3, Colleen Keefe 2, Hudson Gentile, Nancy Halleron; GCS — Shay Ahearn, Hannah Glaros, Bobbie Haney, Lindsey Marshall, Sydney Naylor.
Assists: NDP — Hannah Mardiney 2, Maddie Hoffman, Caitlynn Mossman; GCS — Hannah Glaros 2, Bobbie Haney.
Saves: NDP — Vanessa Stamas 2; GCS — Avery Dyer 10.
Halftime: 5-3, Notre Dame Prep.
Around the league
2A South region, Section I
No. 4 seed River Hill (6-9) — 18, No. 4 seed Wilde Lake (3-10) — 7
Goals: RH — Gaby Hamburger 7, Lexi Thielemann 4; Gracie Seybold 2, Kate Essman, Maggie Kurdle, Lindsey Miller, Olivia Schwab, Julia Smith; WL — Katie Aubin 3, Josie Pittman 3, Diamonique Service.
Assists: RH — Shelby Brunett 3, Gaby Hamburger 3, Lindsey Miller 2, Julia Smith 2.
Saves: RH — Rosh Patel 7; WL — Laura McHale 12.
Halftime: X-X, River Hill
Next up: at No. 1 seed Glenelg on Friday, May 11.
No. 3 seed Hammond (9-5) — 22, No. 6 seed Oakland Mills (1-12) — 6
Goals: Ha — Aryss Lindsey 5, Rachel Hall 3, Caitlin Pettengill 3, Jane Ridgell 3, Jessica Williamson 3, Rachel McClanahan 2, Hana Bramble, Gabby Olson, Abike Oregnuga; OM — Hannah Smelkinson 3, Diya Biswas, Kelly Claxton,Payton Gomes.
Assists: Ha — Ashley Bissenas 3, Aryss Lindsey 2, Rachel Hall,Caitlin Pettengill, Jane Ridgell.
Halftime: 11-4, Hammond
Next up: at No. 2 seed Marriotts Ridge on Friday, May 11.
3A East region, Section I
No. 5 seed Reservoir (3-10) — 9, No. 4 seed Atholton (3-10) — 7
Goals: Re — Elena Martino 3, Sarah Nam 3,Savannah Hill 2, Mariel Henriquez; A — Ella Farris 4, Molly Flynn, Christina Min, Alayna Rhodovi.
Saves: Re — Calleigh Sullivan 16; A — Maddy Eaton 5.
Next up: at No. 1 seed Mt. Hebron on Friday, May 11 at 3:45 p.m.
4A North, Section I
No. 4 seed Howard (7-8) — 19, No. 5 seed Perry Hall — 7
Goals: Ho — Kelly Schluederberg 5, Leah Spalding 4, Jenna Peed 3, Madison Savje 3, Jess Vetter 2, Jamie Tsao, Zoe Summa.
Assists: Ho — Jamie Tsao.
Saves: Ho — Rachel Murphy 9.
Halftime: 10-3, Howard
Next up: at No. 1 seed Western on Friday, May 11.