Recap: McDonogh Impressive in Victory Over St. Paul's

Despite a daunting early season schedule, the McDonogh (MD) boys' lacrosse team has been quite imposing in the early going, posting wins over Avon Old Farms (CT), Severn (MD) and defending state champions McCallie (TN) and Highland Park (TX).

But on the heels of their fast start, the Eagles have intentions of sustaining the momentum for the rest of the season.

On Saturday, McDonogh passed another formidable test against a conference rival and fellow Maryland elite. Spearheaded by dominant midfield play and an impressive second half surge, McDonogh defeated St. Paul's, 11-6, in one of the weekend's top high school boys' lacrosse games.

Keegan Michel led the way with four goals for the Eagles. Although the Crusaders made it a one-goal contest on several occasions early, the Eagles (6-1) never trailed throughout.

"We worked hard preparing for the game," McDonogh head coach Andy Hilgartner said. "We also felt that if we kept playing hard we'd have a chance to be successful. We got a lot of ground balls in the middle of the field which gave us extra possessions, especially in the second half. When you possess the ball that much, you can take advantage."

The Eagles stormed out to a 5-2 lead late in the second quarter before St. Paul's scored back-to-back goals right before intermission. However, after refocusing at halftime, McDonogh put forth one of its best stanzas of the year in the third and took command of the game. By controlling the ground ball battle and dictating play in the midfield, the Eagles kept the Crusaders (5-3) in check and increased their lead to 7-4 heading into the fourth en route to the five-goal victory.

"We have 16 seniors, but not a ton of guys with big game experience," Hilgartner said. "However, what's been great is that whether they are seniors or freshmen, some are playing MIAA games for the first time. The kids aren't getting caught up in the hype of it all, playing as hard as they can and making plays."

Now with a handful of victories over some of the nation's toughest opponents, the Eagles are looking to continue to soar during their tough upcoming conference schedule, which includes Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield. Last season, in a similar situation, McDonogh opened up with an 8-1 record before losing three of its next four games. This time around, Hilgartner's squad is fully aware it needs to maintain its high level of play in order to survive a brutal conference schedule through May.

"We're happy to see that we can compete with some of the top teams in the country so far," Hilgartner said. "It's a really good measuring stick. But we have to remember that it's not a sprint. If you look past anyone, you usually get bit. We're trying to not let that happen."

Four-OT Thriller Headlines Other Regional Results
Meanwhile, in notable Northeast Region boys' results from the weekend, St. Anthony's (NY) edged Delbarton (NJ), 8-6, thanks in part to Sean McDonagh's four goals, Irondequoit (NY) upended Ithaca (NY), 13-10, behind five goals from Greg Coholan, and Saint Andrew's (FL) defeated Don Bosco Prep (NJ), 9-8 in overtime.

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