Time and again on Tuesday, defending Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion Notre Dame Prep tried to find ways to shake off upset-minded Roland Park. On five separate occasions, the Blazers took leads, only to watch the host Reds strike back to even the score.
Finally, Roland Park ran out of answers.
In a game that No. 4 Notre Dame Prep never trailed, sophomores Nancy Halleron and Kailey Pelkey scored two goals each, and senior Ellie Curry scored with 3 minutes left to seal a 9-7 win over the No. 7 Reds.
On a day when NDP lost the battle for draw controls (10-8) and was consistently thwarted by Reds senior goalie Amber Bustard (15 saves), it was the Blazers’ defense that made the difference.
“[We] made a lot of good stops. Our offense is trying to catch up to where the defense is,” Notre Dame Prep coach Mac Ford said. “But they’re a really good team and their goalie is outstanding. We knew that coming in. We didn’t help ourselves out a whole lot.”
The win was the fourth straight for the Blazers (9-2 overall, 7-0 IAAM A Conference) since falling to Glenelg late last month. NDP is ranked No. 16 in the nation in the latest Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Girls' Top 25 High School Power Rankings.
Players said the loss taught them the dangers of being complacent.
“I think we just learned that not every game is going to be an easy game,” Curry said. “We’re going to have challenges.”
On this day, Roland Park (7-3, 6-2) – the No. 23 team in the country – provided just that.
Seven players scored goals for Roland Park, which never trailed by more than two and made it 6-6 on a goal from attack Peyton Woodward off a feed from midfielder Shannon Smith with just over 10 minutes to play. The Blazers, however, took the lead for good on consecutive scores by sophomore Halley Koras senior Natalie O’Connor.
Led by freshman Olivia Rockstroh, Notre Dame Prep’s defense also played a huge role, creating numerous turnovers and stopping the Reds from gaining much momentum.
“Our defense is just always flying around. We’re always on the cutters, so it made it hard for them,” Curry said. “They were just kind of passing it around the arc, and they didn’t have much opportunity to look in the center.”
It marked the second straight conference loss for the Reds, who showed significant improvement from Thursday’s 15-6 loss to Glenelg Country.
“They’re never out of it,” Roland Park coach Meg Miller said. “They’re always fighting to the last minute, to the last whistle. I like that they stay positive… At this point in the season I think it’s a good learning lesson. We’ll see competition like that throughout the rest of the season. So, `Ok, take that one, and next time we’ll do something a little bit different.’”
Goals: NDP- Halleron 2, Pelkey 2, Barger, Knott, Koras, O’Connor, Curry; RP-Sturtz, Shaw, Novotny, Smith, Spencer, Woodward, Insley. Assists: NDP- Barger 2, Regan, Pelkey; RP-Riehl 2, Smith, Shaw. Saves: NDP-Stafford 8; RP-Bustard 15. Half: NDP, 5-3.