When Julia Hoffman set up to take a free-position shot in overtime Monday, her McDonogh girls lacrosse teammates were pretty sure their winning streak would live on.
Hoffman, a All-Metro senior attacker, slipped a low shot between Notre Dame Prep goalie Vanessa Stamas and her left post for an 11-10 victory 2:24 into overtime. That set off a raucous celebration among the Eagles, who extended their national-record girls lacrosse winning streak to 195 games.
“It was nerve-wracking, but luckily it went in,” Hoffman said with a laugh. “I was shooting more lower bouncers today. [Stamas] was really cutting off her offside, so I was just trying to shoot low and hope it’d go in.”
The No. 1 Eagles don’t often celebrate like that, but they also don’t often need overtime to win. They hadn’t trailed by three goals all season until No. 2 Notre Dame Prep ran out to a 4-1 lead in the opening 10 minutes Monday.
They hadn’t played an overtime game since rallying from four goals down with less than nine minutes left to beat Century, 12-11, two years ago.
With a streak they try not to think about on the line, the Eagles (18-0, 12-0) overcame the pressure, stayed composed and finished off their 10th straight undefeated season in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
“You have to play in the moment and not think about the consequences of what could happen,” said Eagles senior Maddie Jenner, last season’s All-Metro Player of the Year. “There were times I was like, ‘Oh, God.’ I was going through all the what-ifs, but I had to reel myself back in.”
In the rematch of last year’s A Conference championship game, the Eagles bounced back from the initial burst by the Blazers (13-4, 8-3) with three straight goals to tie the score at four when Kayla Abernathy fed Lila Huddles with 6:41 left in the first half. Neither team led by more than two after that.
Maryland-bound Hoffman, who had three goals and two assists, gave the Eagles their first lead at 7-6 with 19:08 left in the game when she roared through traffic to score while McDonogh was playing man down.
The Blazers took a 10-9 lead on Nancy Halleron’s transition goal off an Eagles turnover with 3:27 to go. Jenner won the next draw and Hoffman fed Emma Schettig to tie the score with 1:04 left.
The Eagles defense came up big in key moments. After Hannah Mardiney scored three of the Blazers’ first four goals, Schettig and Ava Class switched up face-guarding her and held her to one assist after that.
Caused turnovers also helped the Eagles score the game-winning goal.
Notre Dame Prep’s Ellie Curry won the overtime draw on a foul, but the Eagles pressure defense wouldn’t let the Blazers go to goal. Sam Thacker and Blair Pearre combined to force a turnover and Jenner won the ground ball.
That led to Hoffman taking the first shot in overtime, but it sailed wide. The Eagles got the ball on the end line and were looking for an opening to goal when Hoffman forced the shooting space call and the free position.
“We needed this,” Hoffman said. “We’re definitely going to see them again next week. They’re an amazing team and I think that it’s awesome that we came out on top today. We just had to dig deep because I knew we had it in us.”
The Eagles had already clinched the top-seeded spot for the A Conference tournament that begins next week. NDP, which has one league game remaining against Severn, will be seeded third behind Glenelg Country (11-4, 9-3). All three have first-round byes and begin play Monday.
For the Blazers, who got three goals each from Mardiney and Caitlynn Mossman, the loss was the 17th against the Eagles since their streak began April 13, 2009. They aim to get back to the title game for another crack at ending the Eagles’ run.
“I think we played terrific,” NDP coach Mac Ford said. “Offensively, there’s a lot of things we’ve got to work on, but our defense — you hold McDonogh to 10 goals and we should have won the game. Our girls feel very, very good about themselves. We hate to lose, but if we take care of business maybe we see them again.”
Goals: NDP—Mardiney 3, Mossman 3, Regan 2, Hoffman, Halleron; M—Hoffman 3, Pearre 3, Schettig 2, Anderson, Jenner, Huddles. Assists: NDP—Mardiney; M—Abernathy 2, Hoffman 2. Saves: NDP—Stamas 6; M—Cooper 3. Half: NDP, 5-4.