McDonogh goalie Julia Cooper knew what to expect from most of Glenelg Country's top attackers Friday. She had played with them for years in club lacrosse and she'd seen others during two wins against them last season.
When the Dragons started firing at her early, Cooper snagged five of their first six shots — the critical difference in the No. 1 Eagles' 194th straight win, an 11-6 victory that clinched the top seed in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament.
"She made some really good saves," Dragons co-coach Brian Reese said. "If we finish those, I think we have a lead going into halftime and it's a different game, but even when we got some good looks, she made some great saves and that's what good goalies do."
Cooper, a senior bound for Stanford, finished with nine saves, but the early ones kept McDonogh (17-0, 10-0 IAAM) in the game.
After McDonogh's Emma Tilson scored the first goal, Cooper stopped two Glenelg shots before Shay Ahearn evened the score.
The game remained tied at 1 for 10 minutes as Cooper made three more saves, including two on free-position shots.
"They have incredible shooters," Cooper said. "They have a ton of girls that are going to play at top D-I colleges and I knew that coming down. I've been playing with some of them since I was 10, so that was one thing that was helpful is kind of knowing how they play. But also our defenders did an amazing job just keeping them out and when we can keep them out and not right on top of me, it gives me the opportunity to make the saves, so I credit them for everything."
The defense saw more action than usual, because the Eagles weren't able to dominate the draw as they almost always do. Maddie Jenner, who often gets the better of opponents with her 6-foot-2 height, won five — one of those while playing on the circle — and Kayla Abernathy won two when she took the draw, but McDonogh had just a 10-9 edge in draw controls against Hannah Glaros, Lindsey Marshall and Ahearn.
The Eagles, who shot high and wide on five of their first seven shots, finally netted three in less than a minute and a half. Rachel Anderson, Blair Pearre and Tilson gave them a 4-1 lead with 9:27 left in the half.
Trailing 6-2 at the break, the Dragons (10-4, 8-3) cut the lead to 6-4 on goals from Alli Bateman and Marshall to open the second half, but the Eagles answered with three more goals, two directly off Glenelg turnovers.
McDonogh's top scorer, Julia Hoffman, face-guarded by Caroline Rehder, spent much of the game setting picks or standing at the restraining line and letting her teammates play six-on-six, but she broke lose to score with 16:08 left.
Anderson and Anna Robinson then converted Dragons turnovers to run the lead to 9-4 with 11:40 to go and Glenelg never got closer than within three.
With the draws being nearly even and Hoffman not involved in much of the offensive action, the Eagles showed their balance and depth on offense.
"I love the way this team works together," Eagles coach Nancy Love said. "It's just sort of this flow that they just get moving in and they know each other well. It's just a nice move to what they're doing and backing each other up and supporting each other and the adjustments we make. Whether they're face-guarding Hoff or whatever, they just seamlessly seem to pick up and move no matter what the situation."
The Eagles, the nine-time defending A Conference champions, have one conference game remaining. They host No. 2 Notre Dame Prep on Monday in a rematch of last year's championship game.
The Dragons, who held McDonogh to its second-lowest offensive output of the season despite playing without three injured defenders, travel to No. 6 Bryn Mawr for their season finale Monday. They dropped to third place in the A Conference after the loss. Notre Dame Prep (13-3, 8-2) moved ahead of Glenelg with its 15-7 win over No. 9 St. Mary's on Friday.
1McDonogh 11, 3Glenelg Country 6
Goals: M—Pearre 2, Tilson 2, Marsh 2, Anderson 2, Hoffman 2, A.Robinson; GC—Ahearn 2, Marshall 2, Glaros, Bateman. Assists: M—Jenner; GC—Ahearn 2, Bateman. Saves: M—Cooper 9; GC—Dyer 4. Half: M, 6-2.