To those who thought losing six starters from a year ago might doom the Glenelg girls lacrosse team this spring, the three-time defending state champions sent an ominous message Wednesday.
With an 8-5 win over No. 2 Notre Dame Prep — the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions — the No. 3 Gladiators proved their string of success might only be getting started.
Down 4-0, host Glenelg scored seven straight goals, including four in 3:46 by speedy freshman Emma Kennedy, three of them in short-handed situations. All told, the Gladiators held NDP — ranked No. 4 in the Nike/US Lacrosse High School Girls' Preseason National Top 25 — without a goal for a span of 27:40, building a 7-4 lead by midway through the second half.
“I felt like we just had to set the tone for this season,” said Glenelg senior Emily Nalls, a North Carolina-bound defender who finished with three goals. “Everyone thought maybe there was going to be a drop-off from last season after losing six starters. We just had to put our name out there.”
Glenelg (2-0), ranked No. 12 nationally, changed the complexion of the game by winning draw controls, time and again crashing the circle and scooping up loose balls.
“We usually start out fast, but I think today we came out a little timid,” Gladiators coach Nicole Trunzo said. “Notre Dame Prep is just so fast and skilled, so we didn’t want to get outhustled or lose 50-50 balls. I think we did a great job of turning that around.”
After losing the game’s first four draws and quickly falling behind 4-0 after free-position goals by Notre Dame Prep’s Ellie Curry and Nancy Halleron, Glenelg began to chip away.
The Gladiators cut the lead to 4-2 before the half on back-to-back goals by Nalls, then got within one on a free-position goal by junior Kelsey Morali. But that momentum looked as if it would stall when referees assessed a yellow card to senior Mallory Jubb for illegal contact with just under 15 minutes left, leaving the hosts a player down.
Kennedy, however, embraced the situation, winning possession near midfield and taking the ball to the goal for a short-handed score to tie the game. Fifty-seven seconds later, she scored again, drawing a foul in the arc and putting a free-position shot between the legs of goalie Helen Stafford, who had been difficult to beat in the first half.
By the time she scored her fourth straight goal, on a free-position with 10:17 to play, Glenelg had assumed command of the game.
“We tried to just spread out and work together as a team, passing and cutting,” Kennedy said. “I was very surprised [at the scoring].”
For Notre Dame Prep (5-2), which suffered its first loss this season to nationally ranked American Heritage (Fla.), the outcome was surprising, especially considering the quick start.
“I think they started getting the draws and they were able to start getting the momentum, and slowly but surely they got back into it,” Blazers coach Mac Ford said. “But I think the 50-50 balls were the difference in the game. They were coming up with them.”
Goals: NDP — LePage, Pelkey, Curry, Halleron, O’Connor; G — Kennedy 4, Nalls 3, Morali 1. Assists: NDP — Regan. Saves: NDP — Stafford 9; G-Torres 6. Half: NDP, 4-2.