TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

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.

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