The 21 seniors on the lacrosse roster of Notre Dame Preparatory School were third-graders and on other campuses on April 11, 2009, the last time McDonogh School had lost a game in the sport.
All of the Blazers’ frames of reference from their high school days now include a monumental victory, a 10-8 conquest of McDonogh May 11 in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game.
It was fitting that the game was played on Tierney Field, at the US Lacrosse complex in Sparks, as it resonated nationally. McDonogh had a 198-game win streak, a national record for the sport.
The Eagles hadn’t lost to a team from Maryland since falling to The John Carroll School in the 2008 A Conference final, as the McDonogh streak had included nine straight conference titles.
NDP took the Eagles into overtime in last year’s championship game, and came excruciatingly close to again ending the streak April 30, when McDonogh came back to force overtime and claim an 11-10 victory. (While the Blazers finished with a 17-4 overall record against a demanding schedule, that was their only loss in their final 13 games).
The Blazers were undaunted by those memories and 17 straight losses in all to the Eagles, as they controlled possession, led 2-0, 5-2 and 8-5, and never trailed en route to claiming their first A Conference championship since 2003.
NDP got two goals apiece from Sarah Cooper and Caitlyn Mossman, who fed Brooke Barger with 5:17 remaining for a vital insurance goal after McDonogh had crept to within 9-8.
Goalie Vanessa Stamas had five saves, as defenders Cooper, Caroline Somerville, Annika Meyer and Jordan Tilley teamed to keep the Eagles off balance throughout the game. Jourdan Sabourin led the Blazers’ effort on draws.
“After the first McDonogh game, we knew we let one slip away,” coach Mac Ford said. “We came into this one very calm and loose, with nothing to lose. We felt like we were the better team, and we played the way McDonogh had the last 198 games, aggressive and forcing a lot of turnovers.”
Ford was a 2010 inductee into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He won a Maryland Scholastic Association title while playing for The Gilman School in 1981, a year later helped the University of North Carolina to an NCAA championship, and in 1990 led the U.S. men to a world title.
“I’ve been very fortunate, and this is the top,” he said of his many accomplishments.
Ford was an NDP parent and school board trustee before taking charge of the Blazers’ program before the 2015 season, when he carried five freshmen: Mossman, Sabourin, Somerville, Maddie Corbo and Hannah Mardiney, who had a goal in the title effort.
Many NDP fans were decked out in Hawaiian shirts, a counter to McDonogh’s status as an unreachable “Island” in the sport. Afterward, NDP players donned custom T-shirts proclaiming “The Streak Starts Today.” Ford, meanwhile, got a Gatorade bath.
Email Paul McMullen at pmcmullen@CatholicReview.org.