To say the No. 6 Glenelg girls lacrosse team is on a roll in the playoffs would be an understatement.
Friday night's 15-3 blasting of C. Milton Wright in the Class 3A-2A semifinals to move on to the state title game for the first time since 2008 was only the latest impressive postseason performance by the Gladiators.
Last week, they rolled over then-No. 6 Mount Hebron, 16-4. On Monday they dispatched the presumptive favorite for the state 3A-2A title, No. 2 Marriotts Ridge, 11-7. On Wednesday they won the regional final, 10-5, over Atholton.
While the Gladiators (16-3) had fallen to Mount Hebron and Marriotts Ridge during the regular season, they had defeated C.Milton Wright, 9-8, in April. This time, Glenelg was just too fast and too quick for the Mustangs to counter on either end of the field and rolled up an 11-1 lead by early in the second half.
“They've been on a mission since the very beginning,” said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid, who won her 315th career game.
“We've been slapped around by Hebron and Marriotts Ridge for the past couple years and we weren't having any more of it this year. A lot of them have been together for a while, because this is not an old team; this is a young team that started as ninth-graders on varsity, a bunch of them. It was a matter of building on to new things.”
They started building from the defense up the past few years with goalie Megan Taylor, now starting as a freshman at Maryland, and this year, Kincaid said, the coaches have designed varied offensive sets to go along with the different looks on defense. So many options on both ends of the field make them difficult to scout.
C. Milton Wright coach Jaclyn Parker, who played against Kincaid as a goalie at Mount Hebron, said this was not the same Gladiators team the Mustangs faced in April.
“And all for the better for them,” she said. “They came out and won the draw, and draws win games. Good luck to them in [the state final]. I would love to see them win, because I think they are a phenomenal, super, super strong team.”
In Friday's semifinal, played at Annapolis, Glenelg won the first three draws and set up isolation plays that easily wove through C.Milton Wright's defense. Courtney Renehan, a Maryland-bound junior midfielder, finished with five goals and opened the game with two in the first 3:38.
Kincaid, who won her 315th career game, said the plays weren't necessarily set up exclusively for one-on-ones. That's just what worked. The Gladiators did not have a single assisted goal.
“Basically it's somewhat of an isolation, but we're not just looking for that,” Kincaid said. “We're looking for other things off of it, so the set that you saw early gives you a lot of different looks and a lot of different things you can do off of it. You can't just say, ‘OK, they're going to isolate people off of it.'”
Leading scorer Georgia Esmond made it 3-0 before C. Milton Wright's Moriah Snyder scored on a free position with 18:06 left.
After that, the Mustangs (11-8) struggled just to get possession as the Gladiators put together an 8-0 run that ended with another goal by Renehan at the 22:36 mark for an 11-1 lead to kick in the running clock.
The Mustangs got a couple back on assisted goals from Aubrey Hoover to Makenzie Aponte and from Snyder to Jordan Landsman to pull within 11-3. But Peighton Stone's free-position goal cut off C.Milton Wright's momentum with 11:48 to go.
Renehan's fifth goal of the game gave the Gladiators a 13-3 lead with 5:54 left and started the running clock again. Esmond added her fourth goal for a 14-3 lead and Anna Callahan punctuated the victory with her second goal with 2:35 to go.
The Mustangs, who won their first regional title in three years Wednesday in double overtime at Hereford, couldn't manage enough possessions to counter the Gladiators' big start. Glenelg won 14 of 20 draws and the Mustangs had too many turnovers. Gladiators goalie Maddie McSally had eight saves — four in the final eight minutes.