McDonogh goalie Katie Ferraro says when she's relaxed, good things happen.
The senior was very relaxed Thursday, making 11 saves to hold off Notre Dame Prep and secure a 13-2 victory for the No. 1 Eagles in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semfinals.
Ferraro was all smiles and giggles after a game that included key ground balls and an interception.
"I felt really good today, jumping up and down, listening to music. I was in a really good mood," Ferraro said. "When I'm not stressed out, I'm in a great place. I came in today knowing NDP's a great opponent and I needed to be loose and relaxed. It was a good day."
Even though No. 6 NDP (10-9) held the Eagles to their lowest offensive output of the season, the Blazers could not stop the Eagles from rolling on to their 68th straight victory. They will go after their fourth straight A Conference title Sunday at 3 p.m. at Stevenson University against No. 5 Maryvale, a 9-7 upset winner over No. 2 Bryn Mawr on Thursday.
The Blazers came into the semifinal with a solid strategy and had plenty of chances to stick with the Eagles (17-0), but they could not finish. They hit just two of 17 shots and went without a goal for more than 37 minutes after Molly Cobb fed Danielle Siefert to pull within 2-1 seven minutes into the game.
"We had a very definite game plan going in and had we been able to finish, I think it would have made a difference," Blazers coach Mary Bartel said. "We intended to be deliberate and the last part of the plan was every time down you're going to have to capitalize."
NDP goalie Mary-Sean Wilcox kept the Blazers in it for a while, making seven of her 12 saves in the first half. She couldn't hold off all the Eagles' weapons. Several times, the Eagles were one-on-one with her and McDonogh doesn't miss many of those shots.
Sam Burgess scored three of the first five Eagles goals as they took a 6-1 lead into the break thanks to Taylor Cummings' caused turnover and assist to Corinne Etchison with 17.5 seconds left. Cummings' goal with 11:05 to go in the second half boosted the lead to 11-1.
But the Eagles weren't as sharp as usual on the attack, due in part to the Blazers strong defense and in part to an uncharacteristic 11 turnovers, many of them unforced.
"I think our defense came up huge," Ferraro said. "They know exactly where I struggle and they know exactly where to put the girl so I have the best possibility of saving it. We do it as a team. "
Teammate Liz Bannatine said Ferraro doesn't give herself enough credit.
"She's way too modest," Bannatine said. "Even when that girl was right in front of her, she made that save and I think that's a huge testament to you, Katie. You've been working so hard."
Burgess led the Eagles with four goals and Cummings had three goals and an assist. Corrine Etchison added two goals.
The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in the nation in ESPN High School's Fab 50, are in the title game for the fifth straight year. The senior class is looking for a fourth title after leading the team to a 75-1 record with the one loss in their freshman year to Canandaigua, New York. The Eagles haven't lost to a local team since May 10, 2008 when they fell to then-No. 1 John Carroll, 11-6, in the A Conference tournament championship
No. 1 McDonogh 13, No. 6 NDP 2
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Goals: NDP—Seifert, Hartman; M—Burgess 4, Cummings 3, Etchison 2, Schonk, Valis, Whittle, Horine. Assists: NDP—Cobb; M—Cummings, Black. Saves: NDP—Wilcox 12; M—Ferraro 11. Half: M, 6-1.