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Archive for April 30, 2018

BULLETIN: April 30, 2018 — The McDonogh win streak survives — barely

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On a windswept W. Boulton Dixon field this afternoon, the Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) girls’ lacrosse team found itself in a position where it had little to play for because it had already clinched the regular-season title in the IAAM Division “A.” The little matter of a 194-game win streak was also in play.

But the visitors from Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.), aiming to break a three-way logjam for the two other first-round byes in next week’s tournament, gave the Eagles all they could handle before losing 11-10 in overtime.

Julia Hoffman provided the game-winner for the Eagles in the third minute of overtime on a day when little seemed to go right for the hosts. Indeed, even as McDonogh won three of the first four draws of the game, it didn’t seem to matter, as the Blazers ran out to a 3-1 lead, and held that two-goal advantage at the interval.

After the halftime talk, McDonogh roared back with four straight goals to take an 8-6 lead, whereupon NDP chipped away thanks to some uncharacteristic shooting from the Eagle offense, which appeared to be pressing a little too much to make the perfect pass or the perfect shot.

Notre Dame Prep, which was ranked No. 3 in the TopOfTheCircle.com preseason Top 10, showed great strength and mettle throughout the game and had its chances to win in the final minutes. NDP had the ball after winning a late draw, but, with 42 seconds remaining, turned it over to a McDonogh defense which chose to press out instead of collapse.

NDP also had its shot in the first minute of overtime, but McDonogh made a smart double-team and forced the turnover that led to Hoffman’s free-position goal.

McDonogh’s IAAM season is complete with a 12-0 record, and will finish its regular season Thursday against Sykesville Century (Md.), while NDP takes on Severna Park Severn School (Md.) to finish out its IAAM season.

April 30, 2018 — The almost-perfect matchup, and what might happen this afternoon

Today begins the final week of play in the nation’s premier lacrosse conference, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s “A” Division.

Many in the lacrosse intelligentsia, including your Founder, thought that there would be two undefeated teams by the time this week started, and that the two teams meeting this afternoon at W. Boulton Dixon Field, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) and Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.), would be those two teams.

But recall the TopOfTheCircle.com First Law of Lacrosse: “There’s a reason why games aren’t played on paper.”

While McDonogh has freight-trained its schedule thus far to a 194-game winning streak, Notre Dame Prep lost its opener to Ellicott City Glenelg Country School (Md), then to Baltimore Roland Park (Md.) and Mount Sinai (N.Y.) to open the season 5-3. Since then, however, the Blazers have reeled off eight straight victories.

Within the league standings, McDonogh has a 2 1/2-game lead on Notre Dame Prep and a two-game lead over Glenelg Country School, meaning that the Eagles will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s postseason tournament.

Today’s game is much more important to NDP, because it needs a win in order to solidify a top-three finish in the league standings. Only the top three teams get a bye into the “A” Division octofinal round next week; the fourth- through 13th-place teams are paired off into five first-round games.

It’s plausible, for this reason, that the Blazers might be able to pull the upset here. A number of teams have taken advantage of the lack of a possession clock to try to take the air out of the ball and keep it out of the hands of McDonogh’s clinical finishers.

But that requires Notre Dame Prep to find some countermeasure against McDonogh’s center, Maddie Jenner. The Duke-bound 6-foot-2 senior is a multi-headed Hydra on draws: she can win them to herself, win them to spaces for teammates to run onto, or win them to teammates who can make the catch.

Thing is, even if NDP holds Jenner to 50 percent in the circle, they would have to be nearly perfect in most every other aspect of the game in order to be successful. If they can recapture the magic that propelled them by Olney Good Counsel (Md.) and Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) back in the second week of March, the Blazers will be extremely competitive.

We’ll find out this afternoon.