After graduating a dozen seniors from a team that won Mount Hebron its seventh straight girls lacrosse state title in 2003, the Vikings faced some questions about how they would hold up against tough competition.
The No. 2 Vikings answered yesterday with their 50th straight victory, 8-7 over No. 12 Roland Park at the eighth Maryland High School Lacrosse Showdown at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.
In an event designed to feature nontraditional matchups between top private and public schools, No. 1 St. Paul's also defeated No. 7 Broadneck, 8-4.
But most eyes were on the Vikings, who had yet to be tested, having outscored the opposition 142-6 in seven games. While not the juggernaut they were a year ago, the Vikings (8-0) showed the speed, the skill and the mettle to rebound from an early two-goal deficit and slip past a strong Reds defense.
Megan Bosica scored the game-winner in typical Mount Hebron set-offense style with 5:28 left. Working the sticky Roland Park defense to create space, the Vikings managed to slip Bosica into the arc where Kristen Slahor hit her with a perfect pass for the one-on-one with Reds goalie Ellen Cameron.
"They were pressuring us hard outside, so I kind of pulled out," Bosica said. "Then I just read Kristen and I got through right when they went for the double [team]."
Reds defender Katharine Fox said Bosica's initial cut drew Roland Park's attention - maybe a little too much.
"She's really quick," Fox said, "so we were kind of overcommitted on her cut out and then she back-doored us. By then, they had us so spread that the help couldn't get there in time."
Bosica's goal, her third of the game, gave the Vikings an 8-6 lead. Katie Atkins nailed a free-position shot with 4:40 to go, pulling the Reds within 8-7, but a couple of key defensive plays helped the Vikings hold on.
Goalie Valerie Brown saved a free-position shot from Barbara Seaman with 1:23 left. Roland Park got the ground ball, but Stephanie Bissett forced a turnover behind the crease. The Reds never got another offensive opportunity.
Early on, the Reds (4-5-2) controlled most of the action, taking a 3-1 lead on Atkins' first goal and two from Wendy Blue. Although they turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, most in midfield transition, they also beat the Vikings to a lot of loose balls and got some big saves from Cameron.
In the second half, the Vikings turned that around, scoring three straight goals to take a 7-5 lead. Goals from Bosica, Katie Rekart and Slahor put the Vikings on top to stay with 19:40 remaining.
"This is a big win for us," said Bosica, a sophomore midfielder. "We're a young team, and it's just nice to know we've come a long way and we can still play with teams like this."
In the other girls game, St. Paul's Annie Wagner made her old friends at Broadneck wish she had not transferred after her freshman year. Wagner, a senior attacker who still lives in Annapolis, scored four goals.
"Annie's a very good player," said Broadneck's Allie Johnson, a former rec league teammate of Wagner's. "She knows how to use her size, she's very aggressive and you know she's going to goal."
Caroline Coe, Wagner's cousin, scored on a free position to pull the Bruins even at 3 late in the first half, but Wagner rolled the crease nine seconds before the break to give the Gators (11-1-1) the lead for good. St. Paul's shut out the Bruins (8-2) for the second half.
Strong midfield play from Leslie Koch, Charlotte Ahearn and Liz Schwarcz repeatedly upset the Bruins' transition game, forcing many of their 14 turnovers. The Bruins managed only five second-half shots.