USA TODAY High School Sports presents the 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Lacrosse Team. The team and honorees were selected by Casey Vock of 3dRising.com based on performance, level of play and strength of schedule.
Player of the Year: Maddie Jenner, McDonogh School
Team of the Year: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
Name: Chris Robinson
School: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
Record: 22-0, IAAM A Conference champions
Super 25 Expert Rankings: No. 1
If the McDonogh School is to lose a girls lacrosse game, Chris Robinson wants the opposing team to have put together a performance for the ages to take down his Eagles.
Riding the longest known active win streak in sports at 177 games, Robinson led McDonogh to the program’s ninth consecutive IAAM A Conference championship this season, again capturing the most coveted trophy in scholastic girls lacrosse.
Along the way, the Eagles faced one of the nation’s toughest schedules and managed to remain unscathed, now undefeated for eight consecutive seasons.
Other than two close league games – one an early 13-11 win against Garrison Forest; the other the 12-9 conference final victory over Notre Dame Prep – McDonogh dominated some of the best teams in the country, earning five Super 25 victories to finished ranked No. 1 for the third year in a row.
“Heading into a game, we don’t really talk about the streak or the pressure,” said Robinson, who has been head coach at McDonogh since 2005.
In that time, the Eagles have an incredible record of 255 wins and only 10 losses.
“All I ever say is that if we if we do lose, I want the other team to have to have played the game of their lives,” Robinson said.
“If we go down, I want us to go down with guns blazing and make sure they had to play their best game ever. If we do that and they win, then we congratulate them. But I would never want us to walk off the field and say we have could played harder or tried harder.”
His players take the approach of focusing on each game, more concerned with what lies ahead than what is already in the record books.
“Coach Chris helps us dealing with the pressure of the streak,” said junior midfielder Maddie Jenner, this year’s American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Lacrosse Players of the Year.
“We’ve already surpassed the record for girls sports and other outdoor sports, and so we’ve achieved that and don’t need to worry about it. Instead we’re focused on each game, and you don’t really think about the streak when you’re taking that approach.”
Robinson, active in lacrosse throughout the year as a coach with the M&D Lacrosse Club, sees his role as the manager of a group of girls who come into the program – some of them as freshmen – with a high level of skill and the desire to compete and play at the college level.
Robinson and his staff strive to instill the right work ethic to get them there. They also empower young players, giving them the chance to step up. The results have been head-turning and long-lasting.
“Systematically, we’re not looking at the win,” he said. “It’s a situation where we have four years with the kids in this program and that means we have four years to help them and improve and maximize their potential. From a coaching perspective, I like to push the kids to go above and beyond their limits.”
That has translated to the next level, as McDonogh now serves has one of the country’s most bountiful sources of Division I lacrosse recruits, with numerous Eagles alumni going on to start and win championships in recent years at the University of Maryland.
Robinson, who repeats as the ALL-USA Coach of the Year, considers himself blessed with the opportunity to lead one of the nation’s most respected scholastic sports programs.
“I’m honored to have this team be a big part of my life,” he said. “And it’s really a joy to be a part of this program and to get to work with these kids who work as hard as they do.”