Each of the past three years, Glenelg's road to a state girls lacrosse title has gone through Marriotts Ridge. Entering Friday night's lone regular-season matchup of Howard County powers, the Gladiators had beaten the Mustangs five straight times, knocking them out of the playoffs each year since 2016.
On a wet, chilly night in Glenelg, Marriotts Ridge came out determined to end its recurring nightmare.
Paced by five goals each from senior attack Victoria Hensh and sophomore midfielder Eloise Clevenger, the visiting No. 4 Mustangs scored the game's first five goals, holding No. 2 Glenelg scoreless for the first 18:05 and surviving a late comeback bid for a 10-8 win.
“Starting off with that first draw control just put it into motion," Hensh said, "In past years, we've been down [against Glenelg] and it's like… ugh. This time, it was so great to have that momentum. Having that just meant the world to us, and it made us just want to work harder and harder to rack it up.”
It marked the first loss this season for defending Class 2A state champion Glenelg (4-1 overall, 2-1 Howard County), which is ranked No. 7 nationally in this week's Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Top 25 High School Power Rankings. The Gladiators already had an 8-5 win over then-No. 2 Notre Dame Prep under their belts, and had handled the Mustangs with regularity since before many of their players were even on the varsity.
“For this group of girls, the fact that they've gone through their careers not having this W was extremely important for them," Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady said. "We have a phenomenal team with a great group of girls who play for each other. We were just excited to see them be able to execute on the field.”
They executed particularly well in the game's early minutes.
Playing with seemingly boundless energy, the Mustangs (4-0, 4-0) led this one from the start, winning two of the first three draws and forcing turnovers on two of Glenelg's first three possessions. They then took full advantage, scoring five straight goals off free positions in the first 14:24, four by Clevenger.
“They have a bunch of different defenses that they've thrown at us, so we worked on all of them [in practice," Clevenger said. "We wanted to get the ball off the draw and get up by as many goals as possible. We had so much momentum going into it that we were able to find the weaknesses of their defense and get up five goals really quick, which was crucial to us.”
When Hensh scored on a free position with 23:04 left, Marriotts Ridge had built its lead to 9-3.
The cushion was critical, because Glenelg soon began winning draws and drawing fouls of its own. A free position by Mallory Jubb cut the lead to five, then consecutive goals by Emily Nalls then made it 9-6 with just over 10 minutes to play.
But yet another free position by Clevenger then extended the lead to four, and the deficit proved too steep for the Gladiators.
“It's such a good feeling. Last year's playoff game was by one goal, and it was so hard losing," Clevenger said. "So this year everyone wanted to get this win, and we came out super strong. We weren't going to let up.”
Marriotts Ridge 10, Glenelg 8
Goals: MR-Clevenger 5, Hensh 5; G-Giampalmo 3, Nalls 2, Kennedy 2, Jubb. Assists: G-Giampalmo. Saves: MR-Ranta 7; G-Torres 4. Half: Marriotts Ridge, 7-3.