Glenelg’s No. 7 girls lacrosse team polished off its third straight Howard County championship Wednesday night with a smothering defensive performance that overwhelmed No. 15 Mount Hebron, 15-1.

With relentless pressure from Catherine Taylor, Lara Hoeflich, Ava Rivera and Madelyn Renehan and seven saves from Emily Altshuler, the visiting Gladiators held Mount Hebron scoreless for the first 31 minutes and 42 seconds.

The Gladiators led 8-0 before the Vikings’ Rebekah Stotler scored a free-position goal into an empty net. Less than four minutes later, Glenelg (12-2, 8-0) boosted its lead to 11-1, kicking in a running clock for the final 14:40 of the game.

Junior midfielder Kamryn Henson scored a career-high seven goals, but she gave all the credit to the defense.

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“I feel like our defense did a great job of keeping our momentum up,” Henson said, “because every time we’d lose a draw or we did something wrong on offense, our defense would go right back and get an incredible save and I feel like that started carrying more and more throughout the game. As we got more goals, defense got more stops and it just kept our momentum going.”

Altshuler, a junior, made some terrific saves while backer Taylor along with Hoeflich, Rivera and Renehan pressured every Viking who attacked. Quick slides, double teams and sticky individual efforts forced 12 turnovers, about half of them just after the Vikings controlled a draw.

“We knew they were going to come in hard since it is county championship,” Altshuler said, “and our defenders knew to come in just as hard. They were fast on the backer, getting to their hands, slowing down every shot, popping out on clears and just making my job so much easier to see the ball. I think because they directed the shots in the right way, I could get myself into and be able to save them.”

For the third straight season, the Gladiators finished undefeated in the county. They haven’t lost to a county opponent since April 2019 and they’ve won 29 straight county games.

Because Howard County doesn’t have a championship game, they needed to beat Mount Hebron to secure another title. Had the Vikings (8-4, 6-2) won, the championship would have been a three-way tie with No. 13 Marriotts Ridge (10-4, 7-1).

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Glenelg girls lacrosse coach Alex Pagnotta gives his teams some pointers during a timeout in Wednesday's game at Mount Hebron. The No. 7 Gladiators scored the first eight goals and played a smothering defense to beat the No. 15 Vikings, 15-1, and complete a sweep of Howard County opponents. (Katherine Dunn)

Wednesday night, the Vikings won the first five draws, including three by Stotler, but they turned the ball over after four of them and Glenelg got the ball back after the other won with an Altshuler save.

Lauren LaPointe scored the first goal just over four minutes into the game and it took the Gladiators almost 10 minutes to get their next one. Then the floodgates opened. Henson scored with 11:12 left in the half. She then scored two extra-man goals within about a minute and a half before Maggie Metz and Isa Torres scored for a 6-0 lead with 5:26 left in the half.

After the break, the Gladiators made sure Mount Hebron didn’t recover. They won the first draw on a foul and Grace Brukiewa fed Metz for a 7-0 lead 20 seconds into the half. Glenelg’s defense held the Vikings to just three shots the rest of the way.

Vikings coach Samantha Hall said her team struggled with ball movement and shot selection against the tight Glenelg defense.

“I think the main thing we learned is that we have to move the ball to create openings for each other and ourselves. We can’t hold onto the ball for so long and think something’s going to get created off that,” said Hall, whose team’s losses have all come against ranked opponents.

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For the Gladiators, the win provides a lot of momentum as they had into next week’s regional playoffs where they compete in perhaps the toughest region in the state.

Their Class 2A West Region I includes No. 6 Manchester Valley (13-0), the only undefeated team left in Maryland, as well as defending champ and No. 12 Century (9-4). Last year in the regional final, Century dealt the Gladiators their only loss of the season, 8-7.

The Vikings don’t have it much easier in Class 3A East Region I. They have to get past two-time defending state champion Marriotts Ridge and No. 11 Westminster (8-5) to reach the state quarterfinals. Westminster ended their season a year ago, 10-9, in the regional semifinals.

Seedings will be announced Monday.

NO. 7 GLENELG 15, NO. 15 MOUNT HEBRON 1

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Glenelg 6 9 — 15

Mt. Hebron 0 1 — 1

GOALS: G—Kamryn Henson 7, Isa Torres 4, Lauren LaPointe 2, Maggie Metz 2; MH—Rebekah Stotler.

ASSISTS: G—Maggie Metz, Grace Bruiewa, Ava Hernandez; MH-none.

SAVES: G—Emily Altshuler 7; MH--Katie Cheung, 1; Ashley Wineke 3, Iva Damyanova 0.

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