Printed across the front of No. 1 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes’s pinnies this season are four letters: “WEON.” It’s not a typo or some too-late-to-correct printer’s error, but an acronym meant to remind this year’s Saints squad that tradition comes with responsibility.
“We Earn Our Name” is the Saints’ motto this season. After the departure of superstars Carly Reed (131 goals), MT Fogarty (91 goals), Besser Dyson (149 assists) and others from last year’s 27-1 team, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes’s new-look group wanted to make sure undue credit wasn’t given because of the name on the jersey.
“In the past, the St. Stephen’s lacrosse team has an amazing reputation and there are a lot of expectations,” senior Sophie Davidson said. “Coming into this season, we knew we’d have to work really hard and do everything we could to live up to that name and contribute to that legacy.”
So far, so good. The Saints are 16-0 this season, and have won just one game by fewer than five goals — all against a nationally competitive schedule. While the tradition of St. Stephen’s attracts top talent and ensures that on the depth chart behind every departing legend is the name of a potential star, this year’s team has incorporated less experienced players into a balanced scoring attack that’s proven just as reliable as last year’s big-name driven offense.
“Last year, if you looked at our stats and really looked game-to-game, we’d only have about five or six point scorers,” Saints senior goalkeeper Gussie Johns said. “You might consider that a lot, but it really isn’t that many when you look at the grand scheme of things and all the offensive players in there most of the time. So this year, we usually have 10-plus people scoring points for us. . . I think the ability we have to attack from a lot of different angles and a lot of different ways has made us so successful this year.”
Johns — one star the Saints didn’t have to replace this year — has been a huge part of that success, too.
“Everyone’s talking about Gussie,” St. Stephen’s Coach Kathy Jenkins said. “She’s just been great.”
Johns has made 84 saves in 16 games, and allowed more than five goals just one time, that in the Saints’ grittiest game of the year, when she made 15 saves in a 12-10 win over nationally ranked Notre Dame Prep (Md.).
According to Davidson, Johns, and fellow senior Olivia Mikkelsen, if the Saints can earn Independent School League AA and a Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association championships — feats that would likely require wins against top teams like No. 2 Georgetown Visitation and No. 5 Bishop Ireton — they’ll feel like they’ve earned the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes name in 2014.
“We wanted to step up and keep the same standard for out playing this year,” Mikkelson said. “We wanted to come out, work hard, and have as equally a strong season as we have in past years.”
A rash of injuries hit the No. 5 Bishop Ireton girls last week at the worst possible time: right before the most grueling and challenging portion of the Cardinals’ season. Last week, before a tough two-day stretch that featured games against No. 2 Georgetown Visitation and No. 4 Good Counsel, two of Ireton’s starters — sophomore defender Brittany Dolan and freshman attack Kate Carney — fell to illness and injury, respectively.
Then, after an historic win over No. 2 Visitation, the Cardinals played a physical, back-and-forth game with Good Counsel, one that claimed senior Kendall Cunningham (injury) and Navy-bound defender Natalie Irwin (concussion). By the time Ireton headed into the final game of its five-game week against Brighton (N.Y.) Saturday, the Cardinals were down another starter, crucial defensive cog Kaitlin Luzik, plagued with the flu.
“With those girls out, we had to make some adjustments, but it gave girls who don’t get as many chances the chance to step up,” Ireton Coach Rick Sofield said. “When you put people in those roles, sometimes they perform and sometimes they don’t.”
Fortunately for Sofield, the Cardinals emerged from the week with a 3-2 record, buying time for sickness to flee and injuries to heal before Ireton heads to Georgia to play three nationally competitive teams next week.
“We have to keep grinding, keep the faith,” Sofield said. “We have to come out on the other side stronger. All we’ve talked about is we want to be playing our best lacrosse in the playoffs. We need to be ready for those games in May.”
Georgetown Visitation’s Kelly Myers is averaging more than five goals per game through the Cubs’ first 11 games. . . . Marriotts Ridge’s Taylor Hensh scored nine goals in the Mustangs’ two games this week, a 19-7 win over Centennial and a 16-9 loss to national No. 1 McDonogh. . . . Spalding knocked off two tough IAAM-A opponents this week with a 14-11 win over St. Paul’s and an 11-10 win over then No.6 Severn.
1. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (16-0) LW: 1
2. Georgetown Visitation (7-4) LW: 2
3. Marriotts Ridge (9-1) LW: 5
4. Good Counsel (7-3) LW: 3
5. Bishop Ireton (9-2) LW: 4
6. Spalding (10-4) LW: NR
7. Severn (6-4) LW: 9
8. Madison (4-0) LW: 7
9. Mount Hebron (8-0) LW: 8
10. Severna Park (5-1) LW: 6