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.
Coach of the Year: Chris Robinson, McDonogh School
Team of the Year: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
Name: Maddie Jenner
School: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
On the McDonogh School girls varsity lacrosse team, players are given a chance to develop and make an impact as soon as they are able to prove themselves among their peers.
The past two seasons, Maddie Jenner proved herself as a midfielder who was able make contributions to loaded Eagles teams, showed flashes of excellence on draw controls and used her athleticism and long reach to her advantage.
But in her junior season this spring, Jenner exploded as a daunting force in the middle of the field, able to dominate draw controls against the strongest of teams to help McDonogh continue its amazing winning streak, which now stands at 177 games over nine seasons.
A 6-foot-2, high-IQ midfielder with speed and sharp stick skills, Jenner won 165 draw controls for McDonogh, including 33 of 67 in three playoff games against nationally ranked competition.
Against Super 25 No. 3 Notre Dame Prep in the conference finale, Jenner won 14 as McDonogh was able to secure possession on every draw control of the first half on its way to a 12-9 win and an eighth straight conference title.
At times, her coaches said, opposing teams would endure grueling, long stretches where they wouldn’t touch the ball, and McDonogh played “make it, take it” with Jenner winning back possession after possession.
If her draw wins weren’t a big enough impact, she added 40 goals – second most on the team – and four assists as the nation’s top-ranked team cruised to a 22-0 record.
“Maddie is the prime example of someone who comes in here and improves,” McDonogh head coach Chris Robinson said.
“She goes from being a pretty good player her freshman year to helping out last year and then to becoming the most dominant player on draw controls in the whole country and our second-leading scorer. I don’t think anyone saw her as a freshman becoming the dominant player she is now.”
Watching her sister Olivia excel at draw controls for Duke University, where Maddie is verbally committed to play after graduation, Jenner is one of Robinson’s most devoted players behind the scenes.
She plays soccer in the fall, but uses the summer and the winter months to hone her skills, competing with the elite M&D Black program alongside other players from McDonogh and throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
“That’s really important to having a successful season – preparing and working hard in the winter,” Jenner said. “That’s been a big part of our success. Everyone on our team works really hard in the winter and the offseason.”
Spending so much time facing elite competition in and out of the season, Jenner has become a stronger dodger and shooter, making her that much more of a threat this season as she sprinted downfield off draw control wins.
“Knowing she had a target on her back as teams tried to strategize to stop her, she was more than willing to work to open things open for others,” Robinson said. “She really excelled doing that. She’s just a great kid and a super hard worker.
Growing up watching her older sister win four IAAM A Conference titles with the Eagles, Jenner carries her own lofty expectations into each season. Though she has a year left at McDonogh, she knew how important it was to help send off the 2017 senior class with another conference title.
“In ways it feels like it’s expected and so sometimes it feels like a relief,” Jenner said. “But it’s still exciting to win it with a different group of girls each year. It makes it pretty special for the seniors, who don’t get to play together again, but they finished by going undefeated.”
Looking forward to next year, Jenner believes she hasn’t yet played her best lacrosse in a McDonogh uniform.
“I think defensively, I could make more interceptions and knock down more passes by using my wingspan more,” she said.
“I want to focus on being a more threatening defender and I’ll continue working to improve offensively as well. We lose some of our top scorers from this season, so we will need to have players step up offensively. I think I could keep improving in every aspect.”