Nearly a year ago, the Notre Dame Prep lacrosse team shocked the world.
On Thursday night, McDonogh got even.
Returning to the same field where NDP ended McDonogh’s national-record 198-game winning streak in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference finals last May, the top-ranked Eagles posted a 13-5 victory.
McDonogh rallied from an early three-goal deficit by scoring 12 of the next 13, including five from senior Emma Schettig at US Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks.
“We've all had this circled on our calendars since last year," Schettig said. "We played on this exact field in almost these conditions. We honor the talent of every opponent and try to focus on them, but we've always had this game in the back of our minds.”
“There's a lot of memories on this field," Eagles coach Taylor Cummings said. "We started off kind of slow. I think our nerves kind of hit us, and NDP came at us really hard. But once we settled in and played our game and executed what we had worked on in practice, the chips started to fall.”
McDonogh (16-0 overall, 12-0 conference) clinched first place in the A Conference, as well as the No. 1 seed in the tournament, which begins next Friday. The Eagles, the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, have won 214 of their past 215 games. Their past two – including Tuesday’s 20-8 win over No. 3 Glenelg Country – have come against their top conference foes.
Defending conference champion Notre Dame Prep (12-5, 8-3), meanwhile, now has lost three of its past four games, following Tuesday’s upset loss to St. Mary’s.
“I think the biggest challenge is our offense," NDP coach Mac Ford said. "We're not putting the ball in the cage. So we'll have to move some people around and see if we can figure that out.”
On this night, McDonogh had no such problems. Junior Izzy Marsh added four goals, senior Blair Pearre two and sophomore Kemper Robinson a goal and an assist for the Eagles, who also got strong play in the draw circle from junior Kayla Abernathy (two assists).
Notre Dame Prep dominated this one early, coming out charged up and building a 3-0 lead in the first 9:40, with midfielder Charlotte Boote scoring twice during the run. The Blazers outshot the Eagles, 5-1, during the span, forcing three turnovers.
“In the beginning we were definitely nervous," Schettig said. "Once we kind of got a couple offensive sets under our belt, we started passing sharper, and that really made the difference.”
Down 4-1, however, the Eagles came charging back. After spending the early minutes throwing errant passes and getting beaten for ground balls, they began doing what they do best – winning draws and turning them into quick scores.
Schettig converted a free position to start a string of three straight McDonogh goals in 1:46, with Marsh then scoring in quick succession of feeds from Lila Huddles and Caroline Godine.
Marsh finished with three goals in the half as the teams went into the break tied at 4.
McDonogh then picked up where it left off in the second half, taking its first lead of the game on Marsh's goal from Kayla Abernathy. It was part of a 12-1 run, in which the Eagles consistently won draws, beat NDP to ground balls, put away scoring chances and held the Blazers to one goal over the final 35:16.
“We were focused and we had a really good first half. 4-4 first half, we figured we were right in it," Ford said. "I think they started getting the draws in the second half and we didn't get back on defense quite quick enough. They were able to get some shooting space calls. Once they get a couple goals, they get the momentum swinging their way. It just got away from us a little bit.”
The win gave McDonogh's players some closure on a field where they suffered their highly publicized setback. With players having nearly a year to think about the rematch, Cummings said she was concerned about their mindset coming into the game.
“The message [in practice] was maintaining our composure and handling our emotions," Cummings said. "Once they settled in and found that happy medium, they played lights out.”
Goals: M- Schettig 5, Marsh 4, Pearre 2, Robinson Dorsey; N-Boote 2, Curry, Gentile, Pelkey. Assists: M- Abernathy 2, Godine 2, Robinson, Huddles; N-Boote, Regan. Saves: M-Geoghan 2, Hannerschlog 2; N-Stafford 4. Half: Tied, 4-4.