There was a sense of anticipation around St. Paul’s School’s Levering Field for Tuesday’s IAAM A Conference lacrosse semifinal match between St. Paul’s and Maryvale as clouds that brought a couple of showers to the area broke in the late afternoon.

The Brooklandville neighbors played a close match during the regular season. With a championship berth at stake, another thriller was expected.

Then came the opening draw.

The No. 2 Gators were dominant from start to finish in a 16-4 victory over third-ranked Lions. University of Florida-bound attack Frannie Hahn posted three goals and three assists for St. Paul’s (17-2 overall) and Natalie Shurleff and Marleigh O’Day each recorded hat tricks.

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The Gators scored the game’s first six goals, cementing their place at the USA Lacrosse complex in Sparks for a third consecutive IAAM A final. St. Paul’s will play top-ranked McDonogh for the crown, Friday evening at 7 at Tierney Field.

Nearly two months ago, St. Paul’s emerged with a 9-8 victory over Maryvale. The Gators established a four-goal advantage before the Lions pushed the two-time defending champs in the final minutes. St. Paul’s was finding its identity.

Tuesday, the Gators flexed.

“Best performance to this point,” said St. Paul’s coach Mary Gagnon, “as a total team up and down the field.”

“We were more individualistic, not moving the ball forward and playing as a team,” said Hahn about the first match with Maryvale. “This game, we saw the forward pass, the open cutter…we like to share the ball. It was about team success, not individual success.”

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Six different players scored, capped with Hahn’s first tally, as the Gators gained command quickly. St. Paul’s led 9-3 at halftime.

Frannie Hahn (left) and Susan Radebaugh were part of an impressive showing by St. Paul's girls lacrosse team Tuesday. Hahn had three goals and three assists and Radebaugh stopped 11 shots in goal as the No. 2 Gators handled third-ranked Maryvale, 16-4, an IAAM A Conference semifinal in Brooklandville. (Derek Toney)

Maryvale (16-3) trailed 10-4 early in the second half after Cayden Reese stuck a rebound off a free position miss into the goal. The Gators’ defense, led by junior goalie Susan Radebaugh along with sophomore Sophia Herrera, juniors Kira Balis and Christina King and senior Julia Lee, kept the Lions scoreless the final 23 minutes of regulation.

“I just think we were able to anticipate Maryvale’s offense,” said Radebaugh, who finished with 11 saves. “We went over it the other day in practice, and I think that we were just able to send the early slides and recover fast, and I think that was crucial.”

Sam Paradise finished with two goals for Maryvale, and Reese and Noel Cumberland each scored. Tuesday was the first IAAM A semifinal for the Lions since 2012 when they reached the title match (lost to McDonogh).

Maryvale coach Brian Reese said St. Paul’s big-game experience showed.

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“I thought early on we had some good shots, we just didn’t finish. Defensively, we were out of sorts,” said Reese. “We didn’t do the things that made us successful all season…They’ve been here before and this was our first time in years so I don’t know if the moment got a little bit too big for us, but the future is really bright for us.”

The penultimate game of 2023 IAAM A season will match St. Paul’s, seeking a third straight crown against McDonogh, owners of a record 11 A titles. The Eagles defeated fourth-ranked and last year’s finalist Glenelg Country, 13-4, in Owings Mills in the other semifinal Tuesday.

McDonogh, ranked No. 2 nationally by Inside Lacrosse and USA Lacrosse Magazine, defeated St. Paul’s (ranked third by both publications), 10-9, on April 6.

“It’s great for Baltimore, it’s great for the IAAM,” said Gagnon. “It’s the two best teams, so it’s what it should be.”

IAAM A CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL

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NO. 2 ST. PAUL’S 16, NO. 3 MARYVALE 4

Maryvale 3 1 - 4

St. Paul’s 9 7 - 16

Goals: Maryvale - Paradise 2, Cumberland, Reese; St. Paul’s - Hahn 3, O’Day 3, Shurtleff 3, Steer 2, Regan 2, Herrara, Hoskins, Vasile

Assists: St. Paul’s - Hahn 3, Steer 2, Shurtleff

Saves: Maryvale - Francioli 3; St. Paul’s - Radebaugh 11

Derek Toney is content editor of Varsity Sports Network, a high school sports news network that became part of The Baltimore Banner in August 2022. 

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