In conjunction with the release of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Lacrosse Teams, USA TODAY High School Sports has selected a Girls Lacrosse Team of the Year from teams eligible for the Super 25 rankings. The Team of the Year is the McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.). The selection was made by Casey Vock of 3dRising.com.
Player of the Year: Maddie Jenner, McDonogh School
Coach of the Year: Chris Robinson, McDonogh School
School: McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
Super 25 Rank: No. 1
Many of the girls on the McDonogh School varsity girls lacrosse roster were in grade school the last time the Eagles lost a game.
Having witnessed the beginning of one of the longest-known winning streaks in all of sports, members of this year’s McDonogh team are now a part of it.
By winning the program’s ninth consecutive IAAM A Conference title and completing an eighth straight undefeated seasons, the Eagles closed out the year with the program’s 177th win in a row and finished with their third Super 25 No. 1 ranking in as many years to earn another USA TODAY High School Sports Girls Lacrosse Team of the Year nod.
Extending back to March 11, 2009, when the Eagles fell 12-10 to Canandaigua Academy (N.Y.), this year’s portion of the unimaginable run saw McDonogh tested along the way.
The Eagles twice had to overcome a Notre Dame Prep (Md.) team that finished at No. 3 in the Super 25, including a hard-fought 13-10 win in the IAAM A finale, and also earned wins against No. 4 Marriotts Ridge (Md.), No. 15 Bishop Ireton (Va.) and another two wins against Glenelg Country School (Md.).
“I am amazingly proud of this team,” McDonogh head coach Chris Robinson said after the season.
“I don’t know that people really understand the logistics, the time, the work and everything that goes into this. … There are people who think ‘oh McDonogh has so much talent.’ And we do have a lot of talent, but so does everyone else in our conference.”
Robinson, who repeated as the ALL-USA Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year, credited this year’s group of seniors – winners of four conference titles who never lost a varsity game – as being driven to extend a winning tradition they’d been following since they were young girls.
“This Class of 2017 and our senior leaders were just outstanding,” Robinson said, applauding the leadership of Andie Aldave, Nicole Alecce, Margaret Donovan and Catie May – each named ALL-USA selections after the season.
“This group was just exceptional at playing in the clutch. When we had a big game or big moments and wanted someone to step up in the prime time, those kids were unbelievable and elevated their game another notch, beyond what I thought was even possible.”
Their commitment to excellence, learned from past senior classes, is what Robinson said has helped his program perpetuate its winning ways for the better part of a decade.
“Over the course of their career, not just this year, they did their part in helping this become an incredibly dominant team because of their work ethic,” he said.
With such a strong group of players year in and year out, Robinson pointed to the competition internal to the program as a big source of the drive instilled in the McDonogh players.
“One unforgivable as a McDonogh player is that if you’re not out there hustling and giving 100 percent, the next player will know it and they will be there to compete with you for that time,” Robinson said. “But if you do your job as a player and go out there not afraid to lose, good things will happen.”
In a league that features teams boasting upward of 30 Division I commits, Robinson knows his team has tempted fate in some of its close games against similarly stacked powerhouse programs. But he believes the difference for his squad has been the competitive edge – an unfading will to win – as opposed to simply having a great concentration of talent. Every McDonogh team, he said, simply tries to be better than the last one.
“For our kids, I’m so proud that they never get satisfied with the status quo,” he said. “They’re in the alley playing wall ball, their doing the hard work in the gym, the push-ups, sweating throughout the year and working to be the best players they can be. It’s amazing to see because everyone, by the time they leave, is a better lacrosse player.”