Not since 2009 has a team beaten IAAM-A girls’ lacrosse powerhouse McDonogh. It’s been 106 games since anyone’s handed the Eagles a loss, and six years and 114 games since a league opponent has dealt them a defeat.
But the No. 6 Spalding girls may have as good a chance as anyone to end the streak when the teams play Friday on the Cavaliers’ senior day, if only because their motto fits the task perfectly.
“In the beginning of the year, we made a quote to remember, ‘Why not us?’” senior Maggie Kaulius said. “We’ve taken that into our mindset. People sometimes underestimate Spalding, and we took it to heart, wondering why people underestimate us. We have good players, we can be a good team.”
Even if they don’t complete the Herculean feat of knocking off recently untouchable McDonogh, the emphasis on setting their own expectations and defying those set by others has served the Cavaliers well so far this season.
When Kaulius, a Penn State commit, and fellow captain Anna Kennedy were freshmen in 2011, Spalding went 4-13 and won two of 12 IAAM-A games. Last year, the Cavaliers turned in their first winning season (12-8) since 2008. This season, Spalding is 13-4 and 7-2 against the grueling IAAM-A conference schedule with two league games remaining.
The turnaround coincided with a change in coaches, as Don Restly took over before last season. His daughter, Tara Restly, played at Spalding until 2007, and says she’s seen the Cavaliers complete the difficult challenge of building a team capable of making the leap from perennial cellar-dwellers to contenders in one of the most talent-laden girls’ lacrosse leagues in the country.
“We want a kid who wants to come to Spalding, more than just a kid picking a school because of lacrosse, and so that fit is really important,” said the younger Restly of building a talented roster in an area where options for top players abound. “I would say it’s much harder building in this conference than maybe a public school around the area or even other conferences because every single game is tough. We’ll play a county rivalry against St. Mary’s this week, then turn around and play McDonogh on one day of practice. A lot of schools play a big game and get a week before that next one.”
Against such a challenging schedule, shedding years of losing for a winning mentality requires a shift in mind-set. Kaulius and Kennedy say that developed in part this fall, as more than half the Spalding lacrosse team also played field hockey for the IAAM-A champion Cavaliers.
Close, hard-fought wins against Bryn Mawr and Severn, firsts for every player on the Spalding roster, also bolstered the team’s confidence.
“As Spalding players, we’ve always known we’ve been talented players, but everyone else never really took us that seriously,” Kennedy, a Lafayette commit, said. “But this year, we worked hard every day, had practice in pouring rain, got after it, and are proving to everyone that we’re not someone to mess with, we’re serious competitors.”
While parity in girls’ public school lacrosse continues to increase across the area, a few public school teams continue to reign as year in and year out powers few league foes can challenge.
Madison (7-0), for example, has won 26 straight games against Virginia public school teams, its last loss coming in the playoffs against Oakton in 2012. Current Madison top scorers Alex Condon and Katie Kerrigan and the rest of their senior classmates have lost two games to Virginia schools in their entire career, so far amassing a 59-2 record against Virginia competition in their careers.
The Warhawks have won 24 straight games overall, though within that stretch no team came as close to knocking them off as Westfield did last week in a 16-15 Madison win. The last time a team pushed the Warhawks to one goal was Stone Bridge on April 29, 2013.
Madison’s parallel in Maryland public schools is Marriotts Ridge (10-1). Like the Warhawks, the Mustangs haven’t lost a game to a public school foe since the 2012 playoffs, when rival Mount Hebron beat them. Since then, the only team to beat Marriotts Ridge has been McDonogh.
Current Mustangs players have never lost to a Maryland public school team other than Mount Hebron, and thanks to a recent win streak in that rivalry, the streak against Maryland public schools is now 28 games. That streak will be tested Friday when the Mustangs travel to Mount Hebron for this year’s regular season edition of the Howard County rivalry showdown that went four overtimes in the Mustangs’ 2013 regular season win.
Good Counsel’s Haley Giraldi had five assists in the Falcons’ win over St. Mary’s Tuesday. . . . Mount Hebron’s Jennifer Giles had five goals in each of back-to-back Viking wins over South River and Howard this week. . . . Bishop Ireton’s Charlotte Sofield had four goals and five assists in a 16-8 win over nationally ranked Springfield-Delco (Pa.).
1. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (18-0) LW: 1
2. Marriotts Ridge (10-1) LW: 3
3. Good Counsel (9-3) LW: 4
4. Bishop Ireton (10-2) LW: 5
5. Georgetown Visitation (8-6) LW: 2
6. Spalding (13-4) LW: 6
7. Severn (11-4) LW: 7
8. Madison (7-0) LW: 8
9. Mount Hebron (10-1) LW: 9
10. Broadneck (7-2) LW: NR