September 23, 2018
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  • Broadneck's Grace Lear defended the attack of Severn's Emily Ingrao during the Bruins' win over the Admirals on March 29.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Broadneck's Grace Lear defended the attack of Severn's Emily Ingrao during the Bruins' win over the Admirals on March 29.

Into The Fire: Top Girls Lax Teams Clash At South River

Colin Murphy
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April 2, 2018

There are no days off for the area’s contending girls lacrosse teams.

Severna Park, Broadneck and Severn were among 16 teams from around the state that gathered at South River over the final days of March to get in a pair of early-season games against quality opposition.

They were joined by, among others, Good Counsel, Roland Park and Westminster, three teams intent on contending for their respective league titles and also looking for stiff competition to get the spring underway.

With tough early-season opposition, regular-season schedules peppered with strong Howard County opponents and a continually rising level of play across the state, there are simply no more light opponents for the county’s best teams.

“It’s funny how lacrosse has shifted. Every team is a great opponent,” said Broadneck head coach Katy Kelley. “It’s stressful as a coach, but also that’s how it should be. Every game should be a challenge and an opportunity to grow and develop and kind of create what you want to be as a team. So that’s how we look at it, every day is a learning opportunity. You need that to grow.”

The spring break weekend offered a window into how the teams are doing so far — and where they might end up in late May.

Severna Park

The Falcons are more accustomed to enjoying dominance than they are to suffering losses. Maybe it will end up being a positive that Severna Park has taken a few lumps to start 2018.

Severna Park handily defeated Northeast — an improved program in its own right — in the season opener on March 23 but have since landed in the loss column against three straight opponents, all of top quality. The Falcons fell to Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference opponent St. Mary’s 11-10 on March 26 and entered the South River tournament looking to rebound on March 29 against Good Counsel, an Olney private school that shares the Falcon mascot and blue-and-gold color scheme with Severna Park.

Good Counsel was up to the task against Severna Park. GC took a 6-1 lead and never relented en route to a 12-8 win. Cam Chew led Severna Park with two goals, and if there was a positive to cite, it was that seven different Severna Park players scored: Chew, Hunter Chadwick, Alex Miller, Kayla Minton, Maddy Brady, Julia Putzi and Kailyn McCulloch.

But the Falcons also were sloppy with passes and ball control, several times fumbling away possessions against little or no pressure.

“A big thing is, I think we beat ourselves,” said coach Kaitlyn Hines. “That’s obviously good news for us. It was a lot of our own mistakes and turnovers that they ended up finishing on opportunities they shouldn’t have had.”

Delaney Ott made two saves in the second half for Severna Park.

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls lacrosse vs. Good Counsel

The Falcons by all accounts played better on Saturday against Roland Park, another IAAM A Conference opponent, despite ultimately losing to the Reds in overtime, 10-9. Chadwick netted a hat trick while Chew and Haley Belch each had two scores in the loss, which dropped Severna Park to 1-3.

A unique aspect of the 2018 Falcons is the team has only three seniors: Mallory Martel, Chloe MacDonald and goalie Kelli Kazmarek. Hines nonetheless believes the team’s overall depth, always a strength of Severna Park teams, will play well for the Falcons.

“Our speed through the midfield, we have a ton of middies who can play everywhere out there for us,” said Hines. “And just a relentless attitude. I don’t think they ever quit or give up, which I think is nice to see that they keep pushing through.”

Miller, a junior, said the competition will be tough as always, and the Falcons will come into form.

“We’ve been working on stuff in practice that we just need to implement into the games,” said Miller. “We’re coming together. We’ll get there. Our seniors are great leaders, and they’re always encouraging us. Our junior class is trying to step up and hang with them. We have great captains and coaches. Of course, we have Broadneck and South River [to compete against]. Really just all of our tough competition, we just take it game by game and learn each time.”

Broadneck

As coach Kelley mentioned, the Bruins have no cupcakes on the slate this year, and they wasted no time getting to work by facing Severn and Westminster at South River’s tournament. Broadneck came away 1-1 on the weekend, getting out to a big lead early and holding on to beat the Admirals 10-9 on Thursday, then falling to the Owls 16-15 in overtime on Saturday.

Severn, like every team in the nationally elite IAAM A Conference, was a strong test for the Bruins, as was Westminster, a Carroll County team that has made the 4A/3A state tournament three times this decade.

Broadneck’s Sammy Dupcak, Kaala Puglisi and Alexis Sullivan each registered a hat trick against the Admirals, while Olivia Abe added a score, and Puglisi and Teresa Pelli had assists. Amber Heverly had seven saves for the Bruins, who like Severna Park are deploying a young roster with only three seniors.

“You have to depend on younger players to play older than they are,” said Kelley. “They’re rising to the challenge. The leadership from those three seniors is wonderful and is really helping the younger girls thrive. So it’s an interesting situation, but it seems to be working.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Broadneck vs. Severn girls lacrosse

Still, the Bruins have talent at every spot, which they showed in the narrow loss to the Owls two days later. Dupcak had four goals and two assists, Sullivan and Rachel Della had three goals apiece, Puglisi had two goals and four assists and Abe (two goals, one assist), Haley Palmer (one goal, one assist), Pelli (one assist) and Emily Eckels (one goal, one assist) all fortified the effort.

“We have a ton of different threats, so that’s always something I like to see,” said Kelley.

Broadneck defensive senior captain Grace Lear said the chemistry is already an early strength for the Bruins.

“I think most important to us is making sure we are working together, giving it our best and loving each other,” Lear said. “It really comes together when we’re all playing the sport we love and loving each other at the same time, and I think that’s where the chemistry comes from.”

Severn

Could this be the year a team breaks McDonogh’s stranglehold on the IAAM A Conference? The Owings Mills private school finished last season undefeated for the eighth straight year, having won the nation’s top girls lacrosse conference championship for the ninth time in a row and sitting on a patently absurd 177-game win streak.

Now might be as good a time as any with the sudden departure of longtime McDonogh coach Chris Robinson, who abruptly left both his coaching post and position as a middle school science teacher at McDonogh in January.

Severn head coach Erin DeFalco, in her third year leading the Admirals’ program, said Robinson’s departure probably doesn’t make it easier for the challengers, which include her Admirals plus St. Mary’s and Archbishop Spalding all here in Anne Arundel County.

“McDonogh still has their program and their studs, and they’re obviously the team to beat in our league, but after that, it’s any given day, who wants it more, who’s going to win the fifty-fifty ball,” said DeFalco. “Our league is crazy. You can’t really judge a team off another game. You have to play your best every single day. It’s never a day off. It’s across the board, anybody can win any given day. We will have our hands full. We always do.”

Venturing out to play the nearby public schools hardly makes it easier, as the Admirals took losses to Broadneck and South River at the Seahawks’ tournament by scores of 10-9 and 11-4, respectively.

But there is reason for optimism, too, as the Admirals have a slew of quality players filling the lineup. Sydney Kirchenheiter and Emily Ingrao each scored three goals in the loss to the Bruins, while Bella Ingrao (two goals), Marina Bradley (one goal) and Danielle Drury (one goal) all played well against Broadneck. Emily Ingrao had two goals, Kirchenheiter had one and Camryn Levin had one in the Admirals’ Saturday loss to South River.

PHOTO GALLERY: Broadneck vs. Severn girls lacrosse

The Admirals have a conference win (over Garrison Forest) and a conference loss (to John Carroll) so far, and they will rely on their experience in navigating the IAAM this season.

“We’ve got a veteran defense, the majority are returners, and a veteran goalie who was backup last year but she’s a fantastic goalie, Hanna Ramsey, and then we have a whole bunch of juniors back in our middies and attack, and we have a few newbies who are contributing quite a lot,” said DeFalco.

The Admirals play the Falcons in a Saturday afternoon game at Severn on April 14.

South River

The hosts loomed large over their tournament, and not just because they beat two IAAM A Conference teams in Roland Park and Severn.

Ask the Seahawks, and they’re not shy about it: the girls in Edgewater have a serious squad this spring.

“We are really excited about this year,” said Seahawks coach Caroline Cochran. “We have great senior leadership, which has made a huge difference in our games and practices. This year, our athleticism really stands out. We are really fast in the midfield. Our defensive unit is very strong, we have all returners on the defensive end, so that really helps with the intensity out on the field.”

The Seahawks opened the season with a 10-5 win over a strong Southern team, then rallied in their home tournament opener to nip Roland Park, which is coached by former South River coach Kim McNemar. Down 8-6 at half against the Reds, South River kept plugging away until Kara Hunt scored the game-winner with five seconds left to lift her side to a 13-12 win.

Kelsey Winters had five goals and three assists, Lauren Zinkl had three goals and an assist, Madeline Cloyd had two goals, Kathleen Sullivan had a goal and an assist, and Madeline Lenkhart had a goal in the win.

Against Severn on Saturday, Sullivan had four goals Cloyd and Morgan Carter had two each to lead the Seahawks to another win and a 3-0 start. Alexis Grant, Lenkhart and Zinkl all added scores.

PHOTO GALLERY: South River girls lacrosse vs. Roland Park

Cochran, who played at St. Mary’s, said the spring break tournament was a huge boost for her team as the Seahawks build toward May.

“It’s just such a great opportunity to play anyone from the IAAM,” she said. “They play great teams every single time, so we’ve really upped our schedule this year to make sure all the teams we play are really intense and are going to challenge us. It makes a big difference once we get to regionals and go into playoffs.”


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