By Nelson Coffin
McDonogh’s decade-long lacrosse winning streak came to a crashing halt against Notre Dame Prep in the A Conference championship game at U.S. Lacrosse’s Tierney Field in Sparks on Friday night in front of a raucous standing-room only crowd.
After avoiding the same fate on April 30 when it took a goal by senior attacker Julia Hoffman to subdue the Blazers, 11-10, in overtime, the top-seeded Eagles just did not have enough juice left in the tank to overcome the energy that second-seeded NDP — and its vociferous fans — brought to the table.
“They’re an incredible team, and they put out their best effort” McDonogh senior goalie Julia Cooper said about the Blazers. “They deserved to win.”
And they never trailed in the 10-8 victory that denied the Eagles a 10th straight title and 199th consecutive win.
“Well, we did it,” NDP coach Mac Ford said after wiping off some of the liquid from the traditional postgame Gatorade bath administered to winning coaches. “We just had a lot of confidence coming into the game. Our defense (seniors Caroline Somerville, Sarah Cooper, Annika Meyer and Jordan Tilley and goalie Vanessa Stamas) played lights out and the leadership from our 21 seniors was great.”
NDP struck first, getting back-to-back goals by sophomore midfielder/attacker Liza Regan and senior attacker Hannah Mardinay to bolt to a 2-0 advantage before McDonogh (21-1) equalized on goals by junior midfielder Blaire Pearre and senior attacker Julia Hoffman.
The Blazers then started a 3-0 run on a goal by Sarah Cooper, who picked off a pass in the defensive end on a hard ride and rifled a shot into the net, to put her team on top for the final time with 16:40 left in the first half.
Junior midfielder Ellie Curry then stuck in a rebound before senior attacker Caitlynn Mossman converted a feed from junior midfielder Brooke Barger near the goal circle to build a 5-2 cushion for the Blazers (17-4) with 13:18 remaining in the period.
Hoffman drove through a gang of defenders to get one back for the Eagles that was offset on a free position by Curry to restore the three-goal margin.
Senior midfielder Maddie Jenner salvaged some momentum for the Eagles heading into the second half when she buried a shot as time expired to shave NDP’s lead to 6-4.
That momentum was extended when junior midfielder Emma Tilson nailed a free position early in the period, although NDP countered with goals by Curry and freshman attacker Nancy Halloran on a feed from Mardinay to keep the Blazers in front, 8-5.
Twice the Eagles would pull to within a goal, first on a Jenner free position and then on one by Hoffman with 6:49 to go, making Mardinay — and probably a slew of other Blazer supporters — skittish.
However, the mood lightened on NDP’s side after Barger quick-sticked a feed from Mossman behind the net with 5:21 left.
Although Jenner won the ensuing draw, NDP took the ball away and quickly went into a stalling mode.
“I was nervous after Hoffman’s free position,” Mardinay admitted. “And then we went into the stall. We’ve been in that position before, and it’s very frustrating.”
Still beaming as her teammates celebrated around her, Mardinay said that losing was not an option.
“It was a long day,” she said. “I was in math class today, and I couldn’t even think. For our 21 seniors, it was our last ride. We just had to win this game.”