No. 1 McDonogh girls lacrosse rallies to beat No. 2 St. Paul’s, 13-8, for first IAAM A Conference title since 2019

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It’s not in Kate Levy’s nature to get flustered. As the daughter of longtime University of North Carolina women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy, she’s well-schooled in keeping her composure in tough spots.

With the McDonogh girls lacrosse team trailing by two at halftime of Friday night’s Interscholastic Association of Maryland A Conference final, the junior midfielder stepped up to lead her team on the defining run of its season.


Levy won key draws to open the second half and scored the go-ahead goal as part of a five-goal run that put the top-ranked Eagles ahead for good in a 13-8 win over No. 2 St. Paul’s at USA Lacrosse in Sparks.

“In practice we play scenarios where we’re down five. ... We were only down by two and we had 25 minutes to get three goals,” Levy said. “We exceeded that. Right from the jump we came out with energy. You could just tell we wanted it.”


Levy and teammate Makena London each scored three goals, and freshman goalie Reagan O’Donovan made nine saves, including several at point-blank range in the first half, to help McDonogh (20-1) rally from a lackluster first half in which it was outshot 16-7 and fell behind, 6-3.

“I think they had a chance at halftime to just sort of reset and refocus,” Eagles coach Taylor Cummings said. “We saw what they were doing on offense and we were able to adjust. Just take a second and realize what St. Paul’s was throwing at us. Their energy in the second half was like light years compared to the first half. I think once they got that good momentum they just rolled with it.”

McDonogh defenders McKenzie Brown, left, Natalie Little (16) and Codi Johnson (27) congratulate goalkeeper Reagan O'Donovan after the Eagles' win over St. Paul's in the IAAM A Conference championship game Friday night.

It was the first championship since 2019 for McDonogh, the consensus No. 2 team in the nation that won nine straight during a historic run that ended in 2017. St. Paul’s (18-3), the nation’s consensus No. 3 team, was denied its third straight title in a game that played out significantly different than McDonogh’s 10-9 win over the Gators during the regular season.

“It was a tough second half,” St. Paul’s coach Mary Gagnon said. “We just couldn’t finish well in the second half. We struggled to put the ball in the back of the net. Credit Reagan, she did a good job, but some of it was on us. ... We had one bad half. Unfortunately, it happened to be the second half of the championship game.”

McDonogh quickly jumped out in front, building a 2-0 lead when London intercepted the Gators’ soft pass back to the goalie, then took a step and scored 6:42 into the game.

St. Paul’s, however, took control, scoring four straight goals — including two straight by attacker Lauren Steer — in an 11-minute span to build a 4-2 lead after midfielder Natalie Shurtleff juked past a defender and scored with 6:04 left in the first half.

All told, the Gators took 13 of the game’s first 16 shots, with O’Donovan stopping several at close range.

“I’d say she was probably MVP of this game,” Cummings said of her freshman. “Just an unreal performance by her. A freshman to be in cage in that big of a moment, and to step up and make so many difficult saves. Then having the composure to clear it, be that anchor ... just so proud of her.”

McDonogh attacker Makena London (10) reacts with midfielder Mia Oh, front left, midfielder Ayiana Rippin (22) and attacker Lia Stetler after scoring a goal as St. Paul's defenders Kira Balis, back left, and Christina King (30) look on during the first half of Friday night's IAAM A Conference championship game.

“That was probably my biggest performance of the season so far,” O’Donovan said. “I came to this game feeling really ready. I had a really good warmup. I only allowed like two goals in my warmup, which is the best I’ve ever done. ... I knew coming out this was going to be my best game.”

Leading 4-3, the Gators extended their lead with consecutive goals by Steer and attacker Karina Herrera before sophomore Payton Magday put away an 8-meter shot after a foul with less than a second left in the half.

But that was where the Gators’ dominance ended, as they went the next 13:42 without a score.

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One of the key moments during that stretch came midway through the second half, with McDonogh leading by a goal. Down a player after defender Kit Laake was called for a check to the head, the Eagles stood their ground defensively, then scored a short-handed goal when Levy drew a foul and hit her free position with four seconds left on the penalty.

“Anytime you can score a player down, especially against a talented team like St. Paul’s, that’s just huge for our confidence, huge for our momentum,” Cummings said.

Girls lacrosse


IAAM A Conference Final

(at USA Lacrosse)

McDonogh 13, St. Paul’s 8

Goals: SP — Steer 3, Shurtleff 2, Porter, Hahn, K. Herrera; M — Levy 3, London 3, Lawson 2, Magday 2, Rippin, Schaller, Trahan. Assists: SP — Hahn; M-London, Schaller. Saves: SP — Radabaugh 7. M-O’Donovan 9. Half: McDonogh, 6-4.