Raiders win 13th straight SMAC girls lacrosse title
Raiders beat Warriors, win yet another SMAC girls lacrosse championship
The number 13 might be bad luck for many, but it’s not unlucky for the Leonardtown girls lacrosse team, which wrapped up its 13th straight Southern Maryland Athletic Conference girls lacrosse championship with a 16-4 win over visiting La Plata on Monday.
The SMAC Chesapeake Division champion Raiders (13-2 overall) snapped an early tie with 11 unanswered goals and cruised to the conference championship, the last for outgoing head coach Ken McIlhenny, who will step down at the end of the season.
“No, it never gets old, it’s always good,” McIlhenny said af- ter being surprised with a farewell banner. “The girls came out on fire and [we made] a few mistakes early in the game; some turnovers, but otherwise they were clicking. It’s good to see the girls work hard and it’s fun and it’s been a great ride.”
“It’s just awesome to keep the streak alive, especially with Mac leaving,” said Leonardtown junior attack Catie Corolla, sho scored a game-high seven goals. “Draw controls were big and so was [goalie] Kathryn [McCurdy] making a bunch of saves in the defensive end.”
Leonardtown senior Hannah Byrnes added: “It feels good
to bring it back for Mac’s last year. He’s been here for so long and done so much for the team, so it’s good to get this last one for him.”
The SMAC Potomac Division champion Warriors (10-3) answered an early goal with a free-position goal by Morgan Leonard at the 1-minute mark, but the Raiders pulled away shortly after.
“No one’s got their head down, we did well and there’s definitely some things we could have cleaned up or did better,” La Plata head coach Kelley Nicholl said. “Our shots are usually better than we showed today, we also didn’t win as many groundballs or protect the ball as well as we could have, so those two things we need to clean up definitely, but overall it’s a positive experience to play a team like that.”
“I thought we played pretty well,” La Plata senior Hannah Lind said. “Every time we come down here we know it’s going to be great competition because they’re a well-known program. Personally, I like it a lot because it’s a big indication of how college ball will go next year, and it’s good for us to work on the things we need to.”
Madison McCarthy added three goals for the Raiders and Hayley Newton chipped in with two goals. Grace Leget, Marlee Scott, Hannah Wolfe and Hayes each scored once.
“A lot of the one-on-ones were there because they were covering our cutters pretty well,” said Corolla, who had six goals in the first half, including four straight in a span of 10 minutes 2 seconds. “I usually try and see what the goalie’s giving me and then give a little fake.”
Corolla also added four draw controls, while Scott won three, as the Raiders won 14 as a team.
“Their girls are fast; they’re coming off the line faster than us pointblank,” Lind said. “Something we definitely need to work on is getting the first step in and getting to the ball.”
Paige Hollebon scored twice for the Warriors and Morgan Leonard and Courtney Quade each added one. Lind had a teamhigh two groundballs.
“They did a great job defensively,” Nicholl said. “I know 16 [goals against] doesn’t sound like it, but I’m very proud of how we did and also, the girls played hard together on defense. Every time we come down here we say, ‘This is going to be the best defensive workout we ever get’ so learn from it and they did.”
La Plata is the top-seeded team in the Class 2A South Section II bracket. The Warriors received a bye in the opening round and will play on Friday in the section semifinals versus the winner of Wednesday’s scheduled 4:30 p.m. section quarterfinal contest that has fifth-seeded Westlake taking on fourth-seeded Patuxent.
“[We need to] definitely clean up our shots and don’t rush our shots,” Nicholl said. “And we need to work on shooting and having a heavy defense on us because it’s clear we can take a good shot when we don’t have a defender on us and also catching and protecting [the ball] and getting it to the right people to shoot.”
“I think we need to take care of the ball a lot more and work on our transition game,” Lind said, “and our motion offense and just getting more and higher percentage shots off.”
Leonardtown, which is seeded second in the 4A East Section II playoffs, will host Broadneck of Anne Arundel County at 5 p.m. Friday in a section semifinal matchup.
“What we really need to do is not turn the ball over, and that’s what’s been hurting us,” McIlhenny said. “Even though we’ve been winning, when we turn the ball over we lose the game. That’s the biggest ting is to take care of the ball, don’t turn it over, communicate well on defense, take our time on offense and make every possession count.”
“We just need to execute the way I know we can do,” Byrnes said. “We need to take care of the ball on offense, pass it around, get good defensive sequences, win draw controls and just play our game.”
Leonardtown’s Catie Corolla, right, heads upfield while being defended by La Plata’s Hannah Lind during the Raiders’ 16-4 SMAC championship win on Monday. Corolla scored a game-high seven goals.