Notre Dame Prep’s senior class closed the curtain on an incredible three-year field hockey run Sunday, during which the Blazers were league finalists three times and won the championship twice, as they overcame an early deficit to claim a 3-1 victory over Garrison Forest at Archbishop Spalding and repeat as Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions.
The area’s top-ranked team all season, the Blazers finished 20-1 — their only loss was to Arundel — and will send nine players to Division I colleges.
The final score against Garrison Forest (18-3) was identical to last season’s final, when the Blazers beat the Grizzlies and finished undefeated. In three seasons at NDP, Katrina Ross has coached the program to three trips to the IAAM A Conference championship game.
“To stay No. 1 the entire season with a target on your back is difficult,” said Ross, who coached at the Division I level before taking a hiatus to raise a family. “To finish the season as we did is special. [The 2-1 loss to Arundel on Oct. 12] was a bump in the road, and we learned from it, but our gals played very well after that game.”
Ross said this group of seniors was one of a kind, but got that way only after years of preparation.
“This team is just special. They have worked extraordinarily hard. But these kids came to us with the talent,” Ross said. “It takes a community to build a team like this. It takes parents taking their kids to practice and it takes good coaching at every level from youth league through club teams on up, and it takes a commitment from the girls at a young age to put the effort into it that is needed. I have benefitted from it as the coach lucky enough to get them at this level.”
The Blazers came into the game having outscored their opponents 118-13 with 13 shutouts and had a string of five consecutive shutouts before the Grizzlies’ Riley Patro scored five minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.
NDP recovered nicely, though, tying the score 8:41 into the game on a goal by Julia Kraft off an assist by Meredith Medvetz. Nathalie Friedman’s second-half goal on a hard, arcing shot gave the Blazers the lead with 15:15 to play. Senior Rachel Boryzmowski’s penalty shot with 14:14 to go made it 3-1.
The Blazers defense, led by sophomore goalie Brooke Borzymowski (seven saves), blanked the Grizzlies over the final 55 minutes. The closest Garrison Forest came to scoring in the second half was an apparent goal at the 10-minute mark, which was ruled to have been kicked.
“It feels so great to achieve this together,” said Boston University-bound Rachel Borzymowski. “To come back like we did and shut them down the rest of the game shows how determined we were. We haven’t given up too many goals this season.”
Friedman, who is headed for Wake Forest, played three seasons for Ross.
“It’s so great to have been part of this, to come together as a program. We never had anything like this before, then to go back-to-back, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Friedman said.
Garrison Forest had five shots at halftime, but got only two in the second half. After seven corners in the first half, it had just four in the second half.
“We got a goal early, but it was their night tonight,” said Garrison Forest coach Traci Davis, who started just three seniors. “We figured they would be relentless and they were. But it has been an exciting season for us, we have a phenomenal group of athletes.”