Mount Hebron senior attacker Meg Taylor turned to teammate Cassie Krause in the final moments of last week's Maryland 3A/2A girls' lacrosse final and said something she's waited to say for four years.
"Can you believe it? We never lost a single game. For four years, we've been perfect."
Top-ranked Mount Hebron (19-0) claimed its national high school-record ninth consecutive state title and 13th overall with an 11-5 victory over No. 8 Urbana. It finished the season with a 79-game winning streak dating from 2001, when this year's seniors were eighth-graders at Patapsco Middle School.
"Playing here was one of the best experiences of my life," said senior All-Met midfielder Ginna Lance. "Every game we had to prove ourselves, and every game we did. I know for me, that when I play at [the University of] Pennsylvania next year I'll probably experience what it's like to lose a game. And then I'll think about just how special it was for us to go undefeated in high school. We're never going to forget what it was like to be a part of this."
The Vikings have played against quality opponents before but never as many as they did this season. They faced four teams that later won a state or league title -- St. Mary's-Annapolis (IAAM A1 title), St. Stephen's/St. Agnes (ISL AA), Glenelg (Maryland 2A/1A) and Moorestown, N.J. -- and beat them by a combined 28 goals. For the season, the Vikings outscored the opposition 376-53 and trailed at halftime just once.
"We played the best teams and proved that we could beat them," Krause said. "When [the state final] was over, I think we all realized how special this season really was."
As the Vikings piled on top of each other at UMBC to celebrate, Coach Brooke Kuhl-McClelland watched with a tear on her cheek.
The 11 seniors -- nine with Division I college scholarships -- were freshmen when she began coaching at Mount Hebron, and she has watched them blossom into one of the nation's most talented classes.
"Watching them celebrate is an emotional end to an emotional season," she said. "They've been with me every step of the way. We've gone undefeated before but never like this. We were the ones who had to play with the pressure, and the team everyone rooted against. And every time our seniors pulled us through. When you ask who is the best team in the country, I think our team has earned that title."
Next year may be tougher, although the team will still have All-Met Player of the Year Megan Bosica (65 goals, 31 assists) and goalie Karen Nicolaus. But several talented junior varsity players and freshmen who would have come to the school will be in a new district next season with the opening of Marriott's Ridge.
"I think you also have other teams starting to close the gap because you have a lot more players playing year-round, not just the girls who play at Mount Hebron," Urbana Coach Bill Sardella said. "I think the level of lacrosse is getting better and better every year."
Kuhl-McClelland also expects another tough schedule next season. It will probably include St. Mary's-Annapolis and Moorestown, two teams that are expected to be among the nation's best next spring.
"We're going to miss our seniors a lot, but we have a lot of great players coming back," Bosica said. "But right now, we just want to enjoy going through another season undefeated and winning a state championship."