For Jaclyn Marszal, the heartbreak of last season’s devastating playoff loss to St. Paul’s was still raw. So when her Glenelg Country girls lacrosse team got another shot at the top-ranked Gators on Wednesday, the senior didn’t hold back.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for almost a whole year,” the attacker said. “We were not going to let it slip past us.”
In one of the most dominant performances of any local player this season, Marszal tore up an injury-riddled defense for eight goals and six assists, leading No. 3 Glenelg Country to a dominant 20-7 win over host St. Paul’s, the consensus No. 1 team in the nation.
The win came two weeks shy of a year after the Dragons surrendered a five-goal lead in a 10-9 loss to the Gators in the Interscholastic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinals.
This time, Glenelg Country made certain there was no collapse.
“There’s not a day when I didn’t think about [last year],” Marszal said. “We learned that our foot always has to be on the gas. The moment you take it off, that’s when they’re going to climb back. We knew, and we did not want to feel like that again, at all.”
The win gave Glenelg Country (14-1 overall, 11-1 conference) pole position in the race for the top seed in the IAAM playoffs. The Dragons can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win over Garrison Forest on Friday.
It also marked the first time St. Paul’s allowed 20 goals in a game since falling to McDonogh in 2016.
A big reason for that was a plethora of key injuries on the Gators’ defense.
St. Paul’s (14-1, 12-1) lost two defensive starters — Olivia Rose (ACL) and Kira Balis (shoulder) — in last Wednesday’s win over McDonogh. Junior Grace Schlossberg, who was replacing Rose, then suffered an ACL tear of her own in Friday’s game against Roland Park.
To make matters worse, the Gators on Wednesday also lost defensive midfielder Natalie Shurtleff when she picked up her second yellow card with 5:38 left in the first half.
“No excuses. They were the way better team today, but I wish we had had a little more time to regroup,” St. Paul’s coach Mary Gagnon said. “At one point … we had [senior] Madison [Beale] and four freshmen [on defense]. We couldn’t make the stops that we needed to get a rally going. Then the wheels just kind of came off.
“Some of the young players weren’t quite ready. Then you step into a game like this with all seniors … it’s a good learning experience for us. They panicked a little. They’re kids. They saw Natalie go out, they know that we’re down starters. We were out of our rhythm, forcing shots.”
Led by Marszal and junior Regan Byrne (five goals), Glenelg Country time and again turned an 18-9 advantage in draw controls into points, using its speed and crisp passing game to slice through the Gators’ defense.
Senior Josie Pell led a draw team that kept the ball out of the Gators’ hands, with teammates Arianna Silvestri, Maggie Weisman, Lena Doreen and Blair Byrne continuously coming up with key ground balls to help give them an 8-2 lead after the first 10:25.
“I think the draw was a huge component of this game,” Dragons coach Paige Walton said. “Most of the time when we were able to control the draw, we were able to go down there and score.”
And when St. Paul’s did get possession, goalie Stephanie Marszal shut it down with 10 saves, including several from close range.
“We kind of just knew, since they were down, they were going to try to drive a lot from the top,” Stephanie Marszal said. “So it was sending those early slides, looking for the second slide and just knowing they’re going to shoot it no matter what. It was kind of just like, ‘You have to be ready for any shot, any time.’”
After St. Paul’s got within four late in the first half, Glenelg Country again turned on the jets, scoring the first seven goals after halftime to put the game out of reach.
“Our offense was working so well together … just clicking,” Walton said. “It’s a huge team win, from end to end… and that’s what you need to do to beat a team like St. Paul’s.”
Goals: GCC — J. Marszal 8, R. Byrne 5, Fuhrman 3, Weisman, B. Byrne, Doreen, Silvestri; SP — L. Steer 2, Gross 2, Shurtleff, Regan, Hahn.
Assists: GCS — J. Marszal 6, Pell, Fuhrman. SP — Shurtleff.
Saves: GCS — S. Marszal 10; SP — Radabaugh 9.
Half: 10-6, GCS.