The Notre Dame Prep field hockey team suffered a painful last-second loss to McDonogh in last year’s Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title game. That memory left the Blazers feeling they had unfinished business.
This season ended on a much better note as goals from Nathalie Friedman, Liza Regan and Olivia Kenny gave No. 1 Notre Dame Prep its first IAAM A Conference title with a 3-1 victory over No. 6 Garrison Forest in the championship game Sunday at Stevenson.
This proved to be the perfect ending to a perfect season as the Blazers finished with an 18-0 record and lifted a big weight off their shoulders.
“That was our [goal] — redemption,” Regan said. “We had something to finish. We had something to prove.”
Last year, McDonogh beat Notre Dame Prep when the Eagles scored on ad penalty corner after time expired in the second half. Blazers coach Katrina Ross said this year’s team simply wouldn’t let anything stop them.
“I just know in my heart of hearts that this group doesn’t give up,” Ross said. “They’re determined, they’re gritty…it’s been very, very special to be a part of.”
The Blazers’ fast-paced, high-tempo style put a lot of pressure on Garrison Forest (16-5), but the Grizzlies kept fighting back. In fact, even though Notre Dame Prep came up with several steals and along with some scoring chances in the early minutes, it was Garrison Forest who scored first.
Amanda Fruman scored from in front with 12:12 left in the first half to put the Grizzlies on top, 1-0. That seemed to give Notre Dame Prep a bit of a spark, though, as the Blazers kept pushing the ball into the Garrison Forest end.
Finally, Notre Dame Prep scored two goals in just over three minutes and turned the game around.
Friedman tied it with 32 seconds left in the first half on a high, hard shot. The Blazers then took a 2-1 lead just 2:36 into the second half when Regan got her stick on a ball that a Garrison Forest player had knocked down in front and scored.
Notre Dame Prep kept the pressure on after that and added some insurance when Kenny scored past Garrison Forest goalie Tessa Evarts (six saves) with just over 12 minutes left.
The Blazers did a better job of passing and finding open space in the second half while their defense repeatedly cleared the ball away from goalie Sasha Dennis (seven saves).
Garrison Forest coach Traci Davis knew what was coming because the Grizzlies lost twice to the Blazers this season. She understood they were focused and determined but her team did not back down in this fast-paced game.
“They didn’t stop, but we didn’t stop either,” Davis said. “We put [one] on the board first, and we didn’t give up.”
It just wasn’t enough as Notre Dame Prep wanted to finish its business. The Blazers were not going to let what happened last season happen once more.
Ross said she wasn’t even worried when her team fell behind in the first half. She was confident they’d bounce back.
“We just had to keep plugging away,” Ross said, “and that’s just what we did.”
Caroline Pearce and Kerrigan Rogers scored 58 seconds apart in the first half, and St. Paul’s went on to a 3-0 victory over Maryvale.
Maryvale pressured St. Paul’s early on but the goals from Pearce and Rogers quickly gave the Gators control.
Pearce gave St. Paul’s (11-2) a 1-0 lead when she came in and made a shot from a tough angle against Maryvale goalie Sophie Shucosky (five saves) with 11:18 left in the first half.
That seemed to fire up the Gators. They came right back and Rogers scored from in front 58 seconds later for the quick 2-0 lead.
The lead remained 2-0 at halftime before St. Paul’s added one more early in the second half. Liz Kennedy made it 3-0, also scoring from right in front of the cage, with an assist from Natalie Bray.
That proved to be more than enough for the Gators on a drizzly afternoon. The Lions pressured St. Paul’s at times, but goalie Carson Stephenson (four saves) made some good stops, especially a late kick save.
The Gators had beaten Maryvale (12-7) earlier in the season, and the Lions continued to have bad luck in the championship games, falling to John Carroll in 2016.
Megan Stombler had two goals and one assist while Sydney Lowe added two goals, and Park won its second consecutive C Conference title with a 5-0 victory over Friends.
Park (14-3) held a 1-0 halftime lead before breaking the game open with three quick goals early in the second half. The goals came in a span of just under six minutes and gave the Bruins a 4-0 lead.
Park added one more later for the 5-0 final. The Bruins dominated play in the second half and took command after a much closer first half.
Lowe said that the Bruins refocused at halftime and came out playing much better.
“I think during halftime we took just a second to pull ourselves together,” Lowe said. “We just wanted to get it done.”
Stombler scored on a rebound just 2:06 into the second half. Julia Russel, who assisted on the previous goal, scored on an assist from Stombler a little over two minutes later for a 3-0 lead.
Lowe added her second goal 3:40 later — with 22:10 left in the game — off an assist from Montana Love. Stombler scored the game’s final goal with 16:07 remaining.
Park goalie Mollie Post made three saves in the shutout. This was the third time this season that the Bruins beat Friends (13-5).
Notre Dame Prep 3, Garrison Forest 1
Goals: G — Fruman; N — N. Friedman, Regan, Kenny. Saves: G — Evarts 6; N — Dennis 7. Half: 1-1.
St. Paul’s 3, Maryvale 0
Goals: S — Pearce, Rogers, Kennedy. Assists: S — Bray. Saves: M — Shucosky 5; S — Stephenson 4. Half: S, 2-0.
Park 5, Friends 0
Goals: P — Lowe 2, Stombler 2, Russel. Assists: P — Russel, Stombler, Love. Saves: F — Bowen 6; P — Post 3. Half: P, 1-0.