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St. Paul’s girls lacrosse stuns national No. 1 McDonogh, 16-9, handing Eagles first regular-season loss since 2009

Senior Christina Gagnon was still recovering from an ACL tear when the St. Paul’s girls lacrosse team lost to McDonogh in a double-overtime heartbreaker two years ago in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game.

The pain of the injury was minimal compared with the anguish of not getting the chance for redemption last season.

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On Wednesday, her time finally came … and so did the Gators’.

Gagnon finished with a game-high five goals and three assists, helping visiting St. Paul’s stun the nation’s No. 1 team by scoring the game’s first 10 goals in a 16-9 win.

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“Sitting out was so hard that year … especially that last game,” said Gagnon, who will continue her career at the University of Southern California. “This is just such a good feeling to finally come out on top against them. … We just came out with energy … and believed we could do it.”

For McDonogh (10-1, 9-1 IAAM), the top-ranked team in the Nike/US Lacrosse National Girls Top 25, the loss was as rare as it gets. The Eagles entered the day having won 229 of their past 230 games, including a national-record 198 straight before a 10-8 loss to Notre Dame Prep in the 2018 IAAM A Conference championship game.

It marked their first loss in the regular season since April 11, 2009, when they fell to Canandaigua (N.Y.) Academy, and their first regular-season league defeat since April 2, 2008, when the Eagles lost to John Carroll, 14-9.

“I felt like we blinked and it was 10-0,” McDonogh coach Taylor Cummings said. “That’s a credit to the St. Paul’s team. They did a really nice job in the circle, did a really nice job on the draw, and putting the ball in the back of the net.”

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St. Paul’s (8-0, 8-0), which is ranked No. 9 nationally, led this one from the start, taking its first lead on Gagnon’s free-position chance 2:21 into the game and building a 10-0 advantage by the time she scored her fourth goal, an unassisted effort with 6:43 left in the half.

In between, Gagnon helped the Gators dominate draw controls (9-4 in the first half), force several turnovers and, most importantly, finish their shots.

“St. Paul’s did really good job today of moving the ball, exploiting the openings within our defense,” said Cummings, a former star at McDonogh and Maryland. “I think, as a defensive unit, we’ve got to be able to defend cutters a lot better. And then on offense we have to just not turn over the ball. I think we gave them a lot of extra possessions because we couldn’t take care of it in the offensive end and in the clear.”

Junior Kendall Steer and sophomore Frannie Hahn each added three goals for St. Paul’s, which held McDonogh scoreless for the first 20:49 before the Eagles made a second-half run behind the draws of junior Dakota Uy and the scoring of junior Kori Edmondson (four goals), pulling to within five, 14-9, with 6:13 remaining.

The game was a stark contrast from the last time the teams met — the 2019 A Conference championship game, in which McDonogh rallied from a late two-goal deficit to pull out a 5-4 win in the second sudden-death overtime period.

That was nearly two years ago, with most of the key players on those teams having since departed for college. To St. Paul’s, none of that seemed to matter.

“We’ve been waiting to play them since the [double]-overtime loss, then we had COVID last year,” Gators coach Mary Gagnon said. “We’ve been taking one game at a time … but I think in the back of everyone’s head they were hoping to get to this game. We were ready, we believed in ourselves and we just wanted an opportunity.”

Goals: SP-Gagnon 5, K. Steer 3, F. Hahn 3, McElwee 2, L. Steer, Shurtleff, J. Hahn; M-Edmondson 4, Uy 2, Robinson, Shiels, Godine. Assists: SP-Gagnon 3, K. Steer 2, L. Steer 2, J, Hahn; M-Edmondson. Saves: SP-Warehime 4; M-Wilhelm 4. Half: St. Paul’s 11-1.

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