Game by game, the McDonogh boys lacrosse team is inching back into the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoff picture.
And while the No. 7 Eagles still remain on the outside looking in, it didn’t appear that way Friday against visiting St. Mary’s.
After surrendering the game’s first goal on the opening possession, McDonogh closed the first half with the next nine to overwhelm the No. 2 Saint on its way to a dominating 12-5 win.
After an 0-4 start in the MIAA, the Eagles (9-4) are now 3-4 in the conference – still stuck in seventh place with the top six teams qualifying for the postseason and three games remaining.
St. Mary’s (9-5, 6-2) drops into to third place.
McDonogh faceoff specialist Gable Braun won 17 of 21 draws and Matt Hilgartner (three goals, two assists) and Dane Swanson (three goals) helped make the most of the possessions. Goalie Evan Long finished with 10 saves for the Eeagles.
“The defense and offense did a great job, and our wing play did a great job supporting me and helping me through the entire game,” Braun said. “I thought our team showed a lot of resilience and just kept fighting through.”
The Saints hit the post twice before getting a goal from Garrett Nilsen to open the scoring two minutes into play, but the rest of the first half belonged to the Eagles.
Braun got possession after possession and the attack was precise. With Riley Mitchell tying the score on the next possession, the Eagles rattled off seven straight goals in the first quarter – Swanson and Hilgartner each scoring twice in the string – and then Swanson and Hilgartner scored again in a quieter second quarter for a 9-1 halftime lead.
Now one game back of sixth place Loyola Blakefield, which takes a 4-3 mark into Saturday’s game against Archbiship Spalding, the Eagles aren’t even taking a one-game-at-a-time approach.
“We’re taking it one practice at a time and just trying to grind out each practice and get better,” Braun said. “Whether it’s kids who aren’t getting on the field in these types of games or kids who are – everyone is a part of this program and we’re doing a great job of supporting each other.”
St. Mary’s is battling for second place and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Saints, who got three goals from Nilsen and a two-goal, one-assist performance from Ian Kramp, are now in third -- a half game behind St. Paul’s (6-1).
“McDonogh came out here and jumped all over us. They ran up and down the field, controlled the tempo and deserved to get the win tonight,” St. Mary’s coach Victory Lilly said. “We’ll go in and talk to the team and let them know where we stand. We’re 6-2 in the league after eight games and I’m happy with that, but not happy with tonight’s performance. We’ll move on and be ready for Severn on Tuesday.”
McDonogh will try to even their league mark on Tuesday when they host Mount Saint Joseph.
Goals: SM – Nilsen 3, Krampf 2; M – Swanson 3, M. Hilgartner 3, Mitchell 2, Cole, Lamberti, Ince, McMillen.
Assists: SM -- Krampf; M – Powderly 3, M. Hilgartner 2, Bonitz. Saves: SM – Schmidt 11; M – Long 10. Half: M, 9-1