By Nelson Coffin
With seven Division I lacrosse commits on its roster, the McDonogh field hockey team usually needs time to acclimate to the fall stick sport.
And when the Eagles do get going, they can often make life miserable for A Conference opponents.
Just ask a Garrison Forest team that was undefeated in conference play and ranked No. 1 in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area by the Baltimore Sun and the Varsity Sports Network coming into Friday’s tussle with the Eagles in Owings Mills.
McDonogh prevailed, 2-0, behind a strong backline anchored by senior Jillian Ansell playing in front of senior goalie Liz Geoghan, who made seven saves in the shutout.
“Jillian has been the backbone of our team,” McDonogh coach Denise Wolf said about the Wesleyan field hockey signee. “She stepped in from of so many passes headed for Riley (Patro, one of the Grizzlies’ most dangerous and skilled scorers). “We knew we had to stop her if we were going to win.”
And the Eagles (5-3, 2-2 A Conference) had just enough punch up front, getting goals by seniors Izzy Marsh and Allie Pitts to secure the the first victory over the Grizzlies (9-2, 3-1) since beating them in a 2015 conference semifinal, 3-1, a span of seven games.
Wolf said that a serious injury to one of the Garrison players in warmups and another during the game to senior Celia Donner “may have made them a little off” during the contest.
“But it was still a good game,” Wolf continued. “It was back and forth the whole game, but not having Cecilia hurt their defense.”
Marsh scored near the end of the first half off a penalty corner, assisted by senior Blake Cunneen.
Pitts stuck in a rebound in the second half after Cunneen rocketed a shot off the Garrison goalie’s pads to finish a fastbreak opportunity.
“We came out really strong,” Wolf said. “We finally showed up and I think we’re turning it on now. I just hope the win brings more confidence to the team, because we can still accomplish a lot.”
The Eagles will meet Carroll County public school power Liberty on Tuesday while Garrison will test North Harford in Hartford County the same day.