Park School senior Becca Frank spent most of Friday night winning key possessions on draws, most times popping the ball into the air and using her 5-foot-10 frame to snare it, out of reach of opposing Mercy.
So it was fitting that, with 2.1 seconds left in sudden-death overtime in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference final, the American University-bound midfielder again found herself with the ball — and the game’s biggest shot.
Frank scored on a free position, going high to find the back of the net as the Bruins upended three-time defending champion Mercy, 11-10, at the newly renamed USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks.
“I’ve actually really been struggling on the center hash,” Frank said. “I was going to go low, but then they were on me and I just ended up going high. I knew if it didn’t go our way, we gave everything we had out on the field. But we just dug deep, kept our composure and got the goals we needed.”
Frank finished with four goals, including one with 1:12 left in regulation that forced overtime, as Park (14-2), which suffered both losses this season at the hands of the Magic, won its first title since 2013. She did her best work, however, on draws, helping the Bruins win 18 of 23, overall.
“When Becca goes bananas on the draw, it’s hard to recover from that,” Mercy coach Brian Casserly said. “You don’t win a ton of games when you get out-drawed like that.”
The loss denied Mercy (14-1) its fourth straight championship, and ended its winning streak at 17. The Magic had beaten the Bruins twice during the regular season, and eliminated them from the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
This time, Park coach Robin Cardin Lowe changed things, using Frank on every draw and having the Bruins defense come out further to guard Mercy’s aggressive shooters.
Both worked to perfection. Time and again, the Bruins won possession, then slowed the pace on offense, taking their time until they found the perfect shot.
“We controlled the ball,” Lowe said. “Draw control was by far the most important thing. It gave us the possessions. We stuck with our game plan. We knew we had to limit their goals, which meant limiting their possessions. We spend a lot of time working on shooting and being smart about our shots, and I think it paid off today.”
Senior Rebecca Himelfarb also scored three goals and freshman Cassandra Kitchen two for the Bruins.
Junior Savannah Safchuck had four goals and sophomore Sydney Casserly and senior Madison Laine two each to lead Mercy, which got off to a 2-0 lead and led 10-8 as Safchuck scored off a feed from Ashley Martin with 14:47 left in regulation. The Magic never scored again.
“They say it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season. Hey, super credit to them,” Brian Casserly said. “They came out and had a really good game plan.”
IAAM B Conference final
Park 10, Mercy 9
Latest High School Lacrosse: Insider
Goals: P- Frank 4, Himmelfarb 3, Kitchen 2, Stamatos, Krosin; M- Safchuck 4, Collender 2, Laine 2, Martin, Schmith. Assists: P- Himmelfarb 2, Kitchen, Frank; M- Casserly 2, Schmith, Collender, Safchuck, Martin. Saves: P-Nolan 4; M-Forti 7. Half: Park, 7-5.