In his fourth season at Notre Dame Prep, Ford guided his team to perhaps the biggest win ever in high school girls lacrosse.
His Blazers played their best game of the season in a 10-8 victory over then-No. 1 McDonogh that ended the Eagles’ national-record 198-game winning streak and gave Notre Dame Prep its first Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship since 2003.
The Blazers finished 17-4 and rose to No. 1 with the championship victory.
They suffered early losses to No. 3 Glenelg Country, No. 8 Roland Park and Mount Sinai, N.Y., before winning 12 of their last 13 games. Their only loss during that stretch was to McDonogh, 11-10, in overtime.
“We had a very talented group and sometimes it takes a little time to jell,” Ford said. “We played a really tough schedule and we just started to have a lot of confidence in what we were doing. Even though we lost to McDonogh in overtime, we gained a lot confidence from it. We kept building on it. Our goal was to peak at the right time and we certainly peaked at the right time.”
Ford, a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame after his playing career with Gilman, North Carolina and the U.S. national team, has a 56-24 record in four years with the Blazers, who finished 7-10 his first season.
Ford’s daughters Molly and Abby played for NDP, but he had never coached high school girls lacrosse until four years ago. He coached their club teams and assisted for three years with the U.S. women’s national team that won the 2009 World Cup championship.
When he took over the Blazers, McDonogh’s winning streak was 112. He studied what McDonogh’s coaches did to keep their program rolling.
“Success leaves clues,” said Ford, who started watching McDonogh before he took over at NDP.
“I studied what Chris and Scott Robinson were doing at McDonogh — how they substituted, how they ran their offense and their defense and their pressure ride. … Each year, we felt we were getting closer. I knew it was going to take time, but I knew when we first got there, the freshman class was very, very talented as well as the sophomore class. We had talent throughout. It was just going to take time and it did.”
Ford also gave credit to his assistant coaches, Brian Hartman, Caitlin Formby and Kate Somerville.
Inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2010, Ford was an All-America attackman at Gilman and North Carolina and was named the Best Attackman after helping the United States to the 1990 World Cup championship.