Heading into last Thursday’s nonleague meeting with McDonogh, Marriotts Ridge girls’ lacrosse Coach Natalie Gaieski tried to downplay the importance of the result. The fourth-ranked Mustangs would be heavy underdogs against a private school power with the consensus No. 1 national ranking and a winning streak that spans more than four years.

In the moment, Gaieski said she was frustrated with her team’s play in a 19-9 loss to the Eagles, but after watching the film of its first defeat of the season, the coach feels the players will be better prepared for another deep playoff run.

The Mustangs managed to stay close until McDonogh used an advantage at the draw circle to run off eight goals in the final eight minutes of the opening half in its 88th straight victory.

“All season you have games that you’re just beating teams bad and you don’t have a chance to find out your weaknesses,” Gaieski said. “Let me tell you: Our weaknesses were exposed. We found a lot of things to work on heading into playoffs.”

With a backloaded schedule, Marriotts Ridge (13-1, 11-0 Howard) has been tested in the past two weeks. The Mustangs survived a four-overtime thriller against rival Mount Hebron on April 26 before putting together perhaps their most complete effort of the spring in a 19-6 victory over Glenelg.

Osbourn Park attacker Corinne Wessels has committed to play lacrosse at Northwestern in the future. (Abigail Fazio for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

All-Met Zoe Stukenberg fueled the team’s run to a second straight county title.

In the 13-12 win over the sixth-ranked Vikings, the Maryland-bound senior midfielder had six goals and five assists, including the game-winning goal and an assist to Jenna Kerr for the game-tying score at the end of the second overtime.

Already a two-time Howard County player of the year, Stukenberg has 56 goals and 32 assists in 14 games and appears poised to claim the award again.

“It seems like every year I come into the season wondering how she can get any better,” Gaieski said, “and every year she comes out and she’s just better.”

A year ago, Marriotts Ridge rolled into the playoffs with a perfect record, carrying the expectation of a repeat Maryland 3A/2A title. Instead, Gaieski’s squad fell to Mount Hebron, 10-8, in the Maryland 3A/2A South final.

The Mustangs again hold the region’s top seed, but the coach said the feeling is different this time around.

“I feel like this year we’ve been under the radar all year and that helps you feel like you have nothing to lose,” Gaieski said. “I feel like this group can go out there without any pressure and play to win.”

Stone Bridge senior captain Dylan Maltz will join his brother Derek at Syracuse next year, while little brother Danny, a lacrosse phenom, has hopes to join the Orange one day. Their father Derek was part of Syracuse’s first national championship team in 1983. (Abby Fazio for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

The Post Top 10

St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes kept its hold on the top spot with a 16-9 win over Good Counsel on Friday. The Saints will begin their quest for their 18th straight ISL AA title on Saturday. . . . South River topped Broadneck, 12-9, in the Anne Arundel County title game on Monday behind three goals and two assists from senior Jacquelyn Spalding. . . . Georgetown Visitation All-Met Tess McEvoy scored three more goals in Tuesday’s 16-9 win over Holton-Arms and now has 66 goals for the season.

1. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (23-1) LW: 1

2. Georgetown Visitation (19-1) LW: 2

3. Good Counsel (15-3-1) LW: 3

4. Marriotts Ridge (13-1) LW: 4

5. South River (13-2) LW: 5

6. Mount Hebron (12-2) LW: 6

7. Severn (9-7-1) LW: 7

8. Westfield (14-1) LW: 9

9. Broadneck (12-3) LW: 8

10. Severna Park (10-3) LW: 10

Bubble: Damascus (12-0), Madison (12-1), Bishop Ireton (15-4)

(All records through Tuesday.)

Related: Girls’ lacrosse leaders

Schedule: Girls | Boys

Statistics: Girls | Boys

Standings: Girls | Boys