With the dominance that No. 1 St. Stephen's/St. Agnes has displayed in the Independent Schools League this season, it would not have surprised Saints Coach Marsha Way had her team started off slowly in yesterday's ISL field hockey championship game against National Cathedral.
She needn't have worried. The Saints scored three goals in a 10-minute span early in the first half en route to a 4-0 win over the Eagles at Madeira School in McLean.
"I was a little bit worried about our girls whether they were going to be fired up enough, but they proved that they were," Way said. "Our forward line and our mids are so fast that if the other team's not ready to play, they could take your breath away."
The victory gave the Saints (19-1) their fourth consecutive ISL crown and second straight win over the Eagles in the title game.
Crisp passing and speedy runs at the net set up all three of the Saints' early goals. The team was able to create space in front of the goal to produce open scoring chances on which a trio of Saints junior forwards -- Katherine Denkler, Mia Hurrin and Micaela O'Toole -- capitalized.
St. Stephen/St. Agnes's defense played strong as well, holding National Cathedral (9-4-4) without a shot on goal until after the score was 3-0, and to only two shots for the entire game.
"It was tough to come back from that," National Cathedral Coach Jane DeGrenier said. "We weren't marking. There were girls wide open and that's tough for a goalkeeper to try to stop."
Even though the team hasn't lost a league game since November 2002, a case could be made that this one of the most dominant Saints teams. They outscored league opponents 51-5 and won by a one-goal margin just three times.
"I can't really imagine what it would be like without winning the championship," said senior midfielder Carter Foote, who threaded an assist to O'Toole on her team's final score. "It's kind of a tradition. We've done it every year."
Maret Tops Saints
After coming up short in last year's ISL AA volleyball final, Maret wasn't about to leave anything to chance against St. Stephen's/St. Agnes in the league championship yesterday. The Frogs observed a voluntary curfew on Saturday night, and gathered at noon on the Northwest Washington campus for a light practice.
The Frogs' effort paid dividends in a 25-12, 25-20, 15-25, 25-23 victory, which earned them their first title since 2001 (the last of their six straight). Maret (17-2) prevailed through a well-executed passing and hitting performance led by senior Laurie Davidson, sophomore Kelley Vershbow and junior setter Rachel Profit.
After Maret dropped the third game, Davidson came up big in the fourth game. Tied at 23, Davidson unleashed a kill for game point, and won it one point later on a Saints error. She finished with a team-high 24 kills, while Vershbow added 14.
"It's especially gratifying to be a part of a program with such a legacy," said Profit, who finished with 36 assists. "We had a lot to live up to. We're definitely excited about what we accomplished."
Davidson had 12 kills as Maret captured the first game rather easily, 25-12. Vershbow picked up the momentum with six kills and two aces in winning the second game, 25-20.
St. Stephen's/St. Agnes (19-8) rebounded in the third behind the superb blocking of juniors Ashley Headen and Alicia Edwards. But the Saints simply couldn't pull off the fourth.
"Maret serves and passes so well. We nearly contained Vershbow, but then Davidson delivered. They have just so many weapons," Saints Coach Betsey Rice said.
Earlier in the day, Georgetown Visitation (9-6) won the A championship with a 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 16-4 victory over Episcopal (4-12).