No. 1 McDonogh faces tough challenge as IAAM girls lax moves into semifinals

McDonogh's No. 1 girls lacrosse team has won 110 straight games, but it will take two more to seal a fifth straight perfect season and a sixth straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship.

In some ways, the next two may be harder than the last 110.

The Eagles (18-0) face one of their toughest challengers, No. 5 Severn, in Wednesday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal. In McDonogh's 9-6 win on March 28, the Admirals won the early draws and got a 17-save performance from goalie Meredith Brown.

The Admirals tied the game at 2 and at 4, but then the Eagles did what they usually do and pulled away for a 9-4 lead early in the second half. Even though the Admirals held McDonogh scoreless for more than 21 minutes after that, they couldn't finish enough of their final six shots to come back.

Although Severn controlled the draws early, Olivia Jenner helped McDonogh win 12 of 17 in the game and eight of the last nine. The Eagles also scored two man-up goals in a little over two minutes at the start of the second half to run their lead to 8-4.

"We were winning a bunch [of draws early] when we could get it away from the girl who was taking them, Olivia Jenner," Severn's Caroline Steele said at the time, "and then she just started to draw to herself and we started losing them. They started scoring a few goals, and it's just hard to get back from that." 

That's been the Eagles' story much of the season. A lot of their games have been close early, but the Eagles tend to pull away with a string of goals thanks to Jenner's ability to control the draw and an offense that's playing much smarter than it did when it forced a lot of shots against the Admirals. If they get a few goals ahead in the second half, it's hard to come back against their depth, especially in the midfield and on attack.

In Monday's semifinal, the Eagles scored eight straight second-half goals to take control of the game against John Carroll, the last local team to beat them in the 2008 championship.

In Wednesday's 18-10 Eagles win, the game was tied four times in the first half and 6-5 at halftime.

Megan Whittle had six goals in the win, including two in the eight-goal run. Brindi Griffin had three of her four goals in the run. Elizabeth George also finished with four goals.

The Admirals (14-4), who have never won an IAAM lacrosse title, dispatched Anne Arundel County neighbor Archbishop Spalding, 13-8, in their semifinal. Steele matched No. 3 Spalding's offensive output all by herself with eight goals and Brown had eight saves.

In the other half of the bracket, seventh-ranked Notre Dame Prep defeated Mount de Sales, 9-7, Monday. The Sailors, who won seven of their last nine games, had already pulled off one upset, 12-11 over St. Paul's in Friday's opening round, but couldn't put away NDP.

The Blazers (10-4) will host No. 6 Roland Park (15-5) Wednesday at 4:30 for a chance to move on to Sunday's 6 p.m. title game at Stevenson University.

Roland Park defeated archrival and No. 9 Bryn Mawr, 13-11, in Monday's semifinal. Katie Bolte had four goals and three assists and Cece Finney had four goals.

NDP won IAAM titles in 2001 and 2003 and also won the final Association of Independent Schools championship in 1999 before the AIS combined with the Catholic League to form the IAAM. Roland Park has not won a championship in the IAAM although the Reds won five straight AIS titles between 1991 and 1995 and won their last lacrosse title in 1998.

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