McDonogh girls escape with 13-12 semifinal win over Severn

McDonogh's girls lacrosse streak lives on — but just barely.

The No. 1 Eagles rallied from two goals down with less than six minutes left Wednesday to edge No. 5 Severn, 13-12, for their 111th straight victory and the chance to play for their sixth straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship.

Megan Whittle scored the game winner with 1:18 left, rolling the crease with a crowd of Admirals defenders but still finding a low opening to the net. Olivia Jenner then snatched the draw out of the air, giving the host Eagles the possession they needed to hold on for their first one-goal victory in nearly two years.

The Eagles (20-0) will meet No. 6 Roland Park for the IAAM championship Sunday at 6 p.m. at Stevenson University. The Reds (16-4) defeated No. 7 Notre Dame Prep, 12-10, in the other semifinal.

For the Admirals, who played the Eagles closer than anyone this season, everything seemed in place to pull off the upset. They were the first team to lead McDonogh at the half, 6-5, and they were the first to have a lead so late in a game.

Maddie McDaniel, 6 feet 1, challenged Jenner, 5-10, on the draw, the Severn offense was balanced with seven players scoring and the defense held the Eagles to their lowest offensive output since McDonogh's 9-6 win over the Admirals on March 28.

In the end, they just couldn't stop Whittle. The Maryland-bound senior attacker scored five times, including one behind-the-back goal. On the game winner, she beat most of the Severn defenders while trying to find an opening in front of the goal and then raced around the crease to slip in a low shot from the right side of Severn goalie Meredith Brown, who finished with five saves.

"[Whittle] plays better when the pressure's on," Severn coach Renie Sotiropoulos said, "and when their back was up against the wall, that's who they sent it to and they should have. It's great to have a go-to player like that."

After Whittle buried that shot, the rest was up to Jenner, who helped the Eagles win 16 of 27 draws, including five of the last six.

To Whittle, those last few minutes said a lot about a team that had beaten its first 19 opponents by an average of 8.4 goals.

"Severn played a fantastic game," Whittle said, "and I think it just says something about our team being able to come back and take their hardest punch for two halves. … After Liv got the most important draw of the whole game, we called a timeout and from there, we really handled it and I thought that showed how resilient we were, coming back from being down a couple goals."

The Admirals, who have not beaten the Eagles since 2007, led by two goals three times in the second half. Annie Igler, who finished with three goals, fed Regan Leavitt for an 11-9 Admirals lead with 6:01 to go, but Elizabeth George scored two of her five goals to tie the game with 4:43 left.

Ally Hall gave Severn (14-5) their last lead, 12-11, before George scored again to tie with 2:32 to go.

"They believed they could win," Sotiropoulos said of her team. "For most of the game it was even. They knew they could run with them. They weren't intimidated. The seniors were terrific leaders this year and this was a team that always had fun playing together, so even at the end when things were getting tough, they've won and lost together all year. I was very impressed with them."

The Eagles have not lost a game since April 11, 2009 when they fell to Canandaigua (N.Y.). The last local team to beat them was John Carroll in the 2008 A Conference championship.

In the other semifinal at Notre Dame Prep, Roland Park took a 12-7 lead when Katie Bolte fed Cece Finney with about 12 minutes left in the game. The Blazers then rallied with three straight goals to pull within 12-10 with seven minutes left, but the Reds defense fought them off the rest of the way.

"Our goalie had some big defensive stops," Reds co-coach Reagan Koffel said of junior Riley Brager, who finished with 14 saves, "and our midfield play was huge, transitioning the ball from defense to offense and forcing some turnovers."

Finney led Roland Park with six goals while Francesca Whitehurst and Anna Hauser scored two each. Georgia Tunney had five goals for the Blazers and Mae Tarr added three.

The Reds (16-4) have won four straight games and forced their second title-game showdown with the Eagles in four years. McDonogh won that 2011 championship game 18-17 — one of only six one-goal wins in the 111-game streak. The Eagles won this year's meeting with the Reds, 16-8, on April 7.

1 McDonogh 13, 5 Severn 12

Goals: S—Igler 3, Steele 3, Leavitt 2, McDaniel, Norris, Robbins, Hall; M—Whittle 5, George 5, Griffin, Jenner, Smith. Assists: S—Steele 2, Igler, McDaniel; M—George, Griffin. Saves: S—Brown 5; M—Cadoux 7. Half, S, 6-5.

6 Roland Park 12 7 NDP 10

Goals: RP- Finney 6, Whitehurst 2, Hauser 2, Bolte, Janes; NDP-Tunney 5, Tarr 3, Cobb, C.Drusano. Assists: RP- Janes 3, Bolte 2, Finney, Diffenderfer; NDP-C.Drusano 2, Cobb. Saves: RP- Brager 14; NDP-Darlington 2, Aburn 4. Half- RP, 8-5.

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