Mount Hebron and Marriotts Ridge jostle for position at the top of Howard County’s girls’ lacrosse standings year in and year out. A seven mile drive on Maryland route 99 apart, they pull girls from the same talent-loaded part of the county — an area that fed only Mount Hebron until Marriotts Ridge was built in 2005 and began siphoning away lacrosse talent within its newly established district.
In every season since 2010, the Vikings and Mustangs have met in a 3A/2A region final. Marriotts Ridge won in 2010, 2011, and 2013, while Mount Hebron won in 2012. The teams also meet once annually during the regular season, a tuneup for their playoff rematch.
Marriotts Ridge knocked off Mount Hebron 11-8 to move to the state semifinals last season, a game that sent nine senior Vikings starters out with disappointment and left 2014 redemption in the hands of a young and largely inexperienced group of players filled with unproven talent.
“We’re young, but we have a talented group of kids,” said Mount Hebron Coach Trish Derwart. “We’re getting better, but it’s certainly a process.”
So far, so good for Derwart’s Vikings (4-0). With new starters all over the field, Mount Hebron edged Baltimore-area contender Catonsville 13-9 and Howard County foe Glenelg 10-8 in two early-season tests. One of the Vikings’ remaining stars, junior Maryland commit Jen Giles, scored 14 goals combined in those four games while fellow junior Chachi Kelehan, who tore her ACL as a freshman and spent her sophomore year “getting back into it,” as Derwart put it, chipped in 11.
Defensively, the Vikings are anchored by 2013 Under Armour All-American and UMBC commit Tianna Wallpher, who says she sees her new-look team coming together quickly in large part because they understand how much they need to improve.
“We knew it would be different from years in the past, but that wouldn’t be an excuse for not winning or meeting the same expectations people have had for us in years past,” Wallpher said. “We knew we had work to do with the younger players, but everyone already had the great attitude and [they were] willing to work. I think that was a good attitude to have regardless of what players were coming in or who we were losing.”
Mount Hebron plays Marriotts Ridge April 25.
Friday night’s game at Severna Park will be a strange experience for first-year South River Coach Sam Farrell. She used to be on the other side of these Anne Arundel County battles, a first-team All-Met midfielder at Severna Park and a senior when the Falcons downed the Seahawks 12-7 in the 4A/3A East final on their way to the 2009 Maryland state title.
“It’s going to be a little weird,” Farrell admitted.
Farrell was a two-time All-American defender at Florida and helped lead the Gators to the 2012 Final Four in just their third season as a varsity program. She graduated in 2013, and when she heard from a friend that South River’s job opened up, she applied. Despite the loss of 14 seniors last season, her team is 2-1 with wins over Northeast and Arundel and a one-goal loss to Broadneck — which lost to Severna Park by one.
“Obviously I haven’t been here for a few years, but I still know the county well,” Farrell said. “When I was at Severna Park, we always played good games with South River. It was a good rivalry.”
Each of the three top Anne Arundel County teams plays one other twice this season, so Friday will not be the only time Farrell takes on her old team. As she knows, if history is any indication, her Seahawks will likely face the Falcons two more times after Friday, with a seemingly inevitable playoff showdown looming, too.
Marriotts Ridge senior Taylor Hensh scored eight goals in a 17-7 win over Conestoga (Pa.) then added four more as the Mustangs downed Hammond 24-0 Tuesday. . . . St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes won four games by a combined score of 41-12 before edging Notre Dame Prep 12-10 in a busy week. . . . Kelly Myers scored six goals for Georgetown Visitation in a 17-5 win over Germantown Academy (Pa.) Tuesday, Visitation’s third straight win. . . . Madison has won 19 straight games dating back to March 26, 2013.
1. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (10-0) LW: 1
2. Georgetown Visitation (4-2) LW: 2
3. Good Counsel (4-0) LW: 3
4. Bishop Ireton (4-0) LW: 4
5. Marriotts Ridge (6-0) LW: 5
6. Severna Park (2-0) LW: 6
7. Madison (2-0) LW: 8
8. Mount Hebron (4-0) LW: 9
9. Broadneck (2-1) LW: 10
10. South River (2-1) LW: 7
Records through Tuesday.