Leonardtown Girls Lacrosse Primed for First State Semifinal Appearance
Just because Leonardtown's girls lacrosse team will be playing in its program's first MPSSAA state semifinal on Saturday doesn't make the Raiders underdogs. The St. Mary's County School is undefeated this season, winning all 18 games it's played.
In fact, the Raiders haven't lost to a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference foe in over nine years. Despite its regular season success, Leonardtown could never get out of the highly competitive 4A/3A east region which features top schools from Anne Arundel County like Severna Park, Broadneck, and South River.
That all changed this past Wednesday when Leonardtown topped Broadneck 8-6 to clinch a spot in the final four.
"I think all our coaches knew that if we played to our potential that we could be very competitive, so I would not say it was a surprise," head coach Ken McIlhenny said. "We continue to grow and learn from our mistakes and prepare for each game one at a time."
This isn't the first time Leonardtown has beaten Broadneck. In 2012, the Raiders defeated the Bruins by one goal. The problem was it wasn't for the regional championship. In that game, Leonardtown played Severna Park and lost by one goal.
Many of the girls on the team saw both of those games as younger lacrosse players and knew how close the Raiders had gotten to making school history. It made Wednesday's triumph even more special.
"As coaches, we had to make adjustments to Broadneck's style of play. We made those changes, the girls executed those changes and it paid off," McIlhenny said. "It was amazing to have the ball in the remaining two minutes of that game and hear that horn sound!"
Depth is the key to Leonardtown's success this season. McIlhenny says the team's greatest strength is being able to have 12 solid players on the field at all times that trust in each other, and play well together.
Leonardtown hopes its depth will continue to serve it well in the semifinal against Montgomery County's Churchill. It'll be an intriguing match up in that both teams are competing for the chance to win its county's first state title in girls lacrosse.
McIlhenny expects a highly competitive game on Saturday. If Leonardtown gets through that game, they'll be one step victory from the ultimate prize.
"Winning the state title would be huge for this group," McIlhenny said. "It would prove to them all the practice hours, all the film, all the travel up the road, all the time they spent in the off season working and all the summers playing club lacrosse paid off."
|May 20th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|