After an entire season of play, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference final comes down to the two teams favored from the start - No. 1 McDonogh and No. 2 Notre Dame Prep.
Both teams used second-half runs to pull away from their semifinal opponents Thursday in what has been a close A Conference tournament. The Eagles got three goals each from Hannah Franklin and Brooks Lawler to defeat No. 7 Bryn Mawr, 13-8. Covey Stanwick and Kelsi Bozel scored four goals each to lead NDP past No. 5 and two-time defending champ John Carroll, 14-10.
The title game, Sunday at 3 p.m. at Gerstell Academy in Finksburg, features a rematch of the 10-6 Eagles win on April 22. That is the only game either team has lost to a local opponent all season.
"Their only loss this year was to us," McDonogh coach Chris Robinson said, "so I expect them to come out with a lot of vengeance on their minds. I think they're very talented and it will come down to possession, draw control and who wins the ground ball war, because both teams are pretty good offensively."
In the first meeting, the Eagles preserved their lead with a stall that ate up much of the final 14 minutes. The Blazers don't want to face that again, because the Eagles have so much depth they don't have to trade skill for fresh legs.
"We're going to have to play perfect lacrosse," Blazers coach Mary Bartel said. "We're not going to be able to make a mistake. If we do, they're going to capitalize."
Thursday, the host Blazers (17-1) scored on their first six shots against John Carroll to take a 6-1 lead. The Patriots (13-5) rallied to within 6-4, but Bozel scored three times and Stanwick twice in another 6-1 run for a 12-5 lead.
In the second half, the Patriots won 11 of 12 draws but turned the ball over 13 times and the Blazers scored directly off four of them.
"They're very proficient - their offense, their midfield, their defense - and they just capitalized on some things ... and we fell a little short in that category," said John Carroll coach Krystin Porcella, who got three goals each from Jenn Etzel and Brittany Dashiell.
At McDonogh, the Eagles (18-1), last year's tournament runners-up, had a tougher time with Bryn Mawr than they had in their 16-3 regular-season romp. After falling behind 7-3, Bryn Mawr closed to within 7-6.
"They made that run early in the second half, but I think they kind of ran out of gas and we went on a five-goal run then," Robinson said. "They didn't have the gas the last 17-18 minutes of the game to stay with our depth."
Annie Thomas led the Mawrtians (13-6) with three goals and Paige Hanson added two.