After the Gonzaga boys’ lacrosse team fell, 6-5, at Baltimore power McDonogh on March 26, its only loss of the season, the somber bus ride home sent Coach Casey O’Neill a clear message about the state of his program.
“In years past, we’d lose [that game] by a goal and be kind of like ‘Hey, look what we can do,’ ” said O’Neill, whose team had never beaten an MIAA squad prior to 2006. “But that’s what kind of expectations these kids have. They’re not going to be second fiddle to anybody.”
With seven straight wins since, including its first victory over No. 5 Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga has only affirmed its status as the area’s top team. The Eagles (13-1) have won each of their first five Washington Catholic Athletic Conference games by at least six goals with convincing victories over contenders St. Mary’s Ryken and Good Counsel in the past week.
Junior Alex Corboy (Hobart) leads Gonzaga offensively with 29 goals and 12 assists, while senior Connor Reed, a returning All-Met headed to Johns Hopkins, continues to present matchup problems for opposing defenses with his athleticism. Junior goalie Timmy Farrell backbones a defense that has allowed just 4.4 goals per game.
The experienced group heads toward the postseason with plenty of confidence. Gonzaga has not lost in the WCAC since falling 6-4 in a tournament game to DeMatha on May 8, 2009, meaning many of the team’s key contributors have never experienced a loss to a conference opponent.
The Eagles will be tested next week with a trip to No. 3 Landon and a chance to finish the season 4-0 against Interstate Athletic Conference teams. Then comes the WCAC tournament where they’ll try to win a third straight title for the first time in school history.
With each win, the Eagles are keeping a promise they made to each other on the way back from McDonogh about a month ago, according to junior defender Matt Borda.
“That was the worst day this year,” Borda said. “We resolved to go undefeated the rest of the way because we don’t want to go through that again. We want to keep it going.” . . .
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes burst out of the gates with seven wins in its first eight games, including quality victories against MIAA foes Boys’ Latin and McDonogh, but the team has found life more difficult in Interstate Athletic Conference play.
Despite an impressive resume, the sixth-ranked Saints (11-3, 1-2) are tied for fourth place in the six-team conference with neighborhood rival Episcopal after two-goal losses to Georgetown Prep and Landon.
Led by senior Brent Armstrong (31 goals, 20 assists), the squad has pushed through a pair of key injuries. Junior Isaiah Davis-Allen, a Maryland recruit, broke his leg in practice last week and will miss the rest of the season, while sophomore face-off specialist Clay Carson has missed time with a concussion.
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes has opportunities left to improve its seeding for the conference tournament with Friday’s game at Episcopal and a trip to No. 2 Bullis next Tuesday. The Bulldogs are the lone team without a conference loss.
“The bottom line is that we’re sub-.500 in the league,” Coach Andy Taibl said after Friday’s 8-6 loss to Landon. “I think right now that tells us where we are and where we deserve to be. I think it’s a great league in the sense that if anybody plays well they have an opportunity, but we still have a long way to go.”
There are losing streaks and then there are losing streaks. The latter are the type that can snuff out a fledgling program entirely.
Just ask the Wakefield boys’ lacrosse team, which carried the burden of 99 consecutive defeats into Tuesday’s matchup with Park View.
But after watching the girls varsity team beat the Patriots to notch its first win in seven seasons, the Warriors followed suit. Junior Da’John Johnson scored four goals and Alejandro Galea, Michael Keck and Matthew Mason added two apiece as Wakefield rolled to a 12-1 victory, breaking a winless streak that spanned nine years.
“It was liberating,” first-year Coach Brian Gilman said.
It was also the next step in Gilman’s aim to build a team capable of competing in the AAA National District and Northern Region.
Over the last three years, growth has been marked by numbers — not on the scoreboard. In 2009, in Gilman’s first season on the staff, the Warriors (1-8) ended its season with only 13 players. This spring they have 19 on the team and for the first time are fielding a junior varsity squad. More than 20 of those players are playing lacrosse for the first time this season in a diverse Arlington neighborhood where the sport is still new to most.
“Without winning, it was hard to attract new players to the game,” Gilman said. “It’s something that happens with a lot of sports at Wakefield — the kids just don’t want to follow through with it.
“But we’ve had the building blocks, and now these guys can see that we’re not as down and out as we once thought.”
Before Tuesday, Wakefield’s closest contest was a 15-8 loss to Stuart. And while claiming a second victory at home against perennial district champion Yorktown will be a tall task, the Warriors finally have tangible evidence that their hard work is paying off.
“The whole point of getting that first win was to establish that winning mindset,” Gilman said. “You could see their confidence building throughout the game. They had that mentality that we can actually do this.”
Sophomore Madeline Brophy scored 10 goals to lead the Wakefield girls past the Patriots 14-13 in overtime.