As a young, rebuilt team, No. 1 McDonogh girls lacrosse constantly strives to hone the mental part of the game and not let mistakes linger into the next play.
In Tuesday’s showdown at previously undefeated and No. 4 Glenelg Country School, the Eagles proved they’re getting pretty good at it, fighting off three Dragons comeback attempts to take a 12-8 victory.
Amanda Lawson and Sophia Trahan scored four goals each as the Eagles (12-1 overall) improved to 10-0 and are the only team remaining unbeaten in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
The Dragons (10-1, 8-1) closed a two-goal deficit early and a three-goal deficit just after halftime. With 6 minutes, 21 seconds left, they rallied again on two straight goals from Regan Byrne to pull within 9-8. The Eagles, however, thwarted that comeback attempt with three straight goals.
Trahan won the next draw and less than a minute after Glenelg Country closed the gap to one, Lawson wove her way through traffic to push the Eagles lead to 10-8. Trahan then scored the final two goals, the last on a feed from Lawson with 1:08 left.
“We’ve had some games like that where we’ve either had to battle back this season or we’ve had a lead and lost it,” said Eagles coach Taylor Cummings. “The thing I’ve been really impressed with with this group throughout the whole season is no matter the situation, they’re very resilient.”
The Eagles have now finished the toughest part of their schedule. They’ve defeated the next four teams in the A Conference standings, also the next four teams in the VSN/Baltimore Banner Top 15 — No. 2 and defending champion St. Paul’s, No. 3 Maryvale Prep, No. 4 Glenelg Country and No. 5 Archbishop Spalding.
Against that kind of tough competition — all five teams are ranked in the Top 13 of the Nike/USA Lacrosse National Girls Top 15 — the Eagles, No. 2 nationally, have learned a lot that they applied to the win over the Dragons.
“I think the main thing we’ve learned,” Lawson said, “is when we get to those humps in the middle of the game, when it’s tied or they come back or they’re winning or they have momentum, mentally we’re there to stop that momentum and not get in our own heads… We’re so new (as a team) that when we do mess up, it sucks, but we can’t worry about mistakes. We just have to move forward.”
The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Lawson and Payton Magday in the first five minutes. Dragons twins Regan and Blair Byrne erased that in a little less than four minutes and the back-and forth game was on although the Eagles never trailed.
Kate Levy’s free-position goal gave the Eagles back the lead and Lawson’s free-position goal 8.4 seconds before the half boosted it to 6-3.
After the break, The Dragons came out strong as Blair Byrne won two of the first three draws and a Dragons defender checked the Eagles’ only shot in the first five minutes so goalie Natalie Eastwood could snare the ground ball.
Meanwhile, Blair Bryne, Lilly Fortin and Maggie Flanagan scored to tie the game at 6.
The Eagles responded with their own three-goal run thanks in part to two saves from freshman goalie Reagan O’Donovan. Goals from Trahan, Magday and Levy pushed the Eagles lead back to three, 9-6, with 12:21 to go.
McDonogh’s defense of Natalie Little, Kit Laake, McKenzie Brown and Codi Johnson continued to clamp down, forcing a turnover and allowing only one Dragons shot, which hit the pipe, in the final seven minutes.
“I think that our communication was really strong on the defensive end,” Brown said. “We worked really well together… They were fast, they drove hard and they had good cutters. I think we shut them down really well with the team and we had good slides.”
The Dragons missed several opportunities late in the game and it didn’t help to pick up four yellow cards, including one with 2:45 left. Trahan’s final goal was an extra-man goal, McDonogh’s fourth of the game.
While the Eagles have completed their games against the conference’s toughest opponents, the Dragons still have to play Maryvale Saturday and St. Paul’s Tuesday, but coach Paige Walton said her team can take lessons from the loss to McDonogh into the rest of the season.
“That’s what we talked about (after the game),” she said. “We’ve got to play faster, we have to be more disciplined. First of all, we cannot get four cards against a team like this… Going forward, we know what we have to work on and I think the girls are ready to do that. We knew the back half of our schedule was going to be tough.”
NO. 1 MCDONOGH 12, NO. 4 GLENELG COUNTRY SCHOOL 8
McDonogh 6 6 — 12
Glenelg CS 3 5 — 8
GOALS: M—Amanda Lawson 4, Sophia Trahan 4, Kate Levy 2, Payton Magday 2; GCS—Blair Byrne 4, Regan Byrne 2, Lily Fortin, Maggie Flanagan.
ASSISTS: M—Amanda Lawson, Kate Levy; GCS—Lilly Fortin, Sophia Rakis.
SAVES: M—Reagan O’Donovan 6; GCS—Natalie Eastwood 4.