When: Monday, 4 p.m.
Coaches: Becky Groves, Century; Chris Robinson, McDonogh
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Century: Alice Mercer, Sr., M; Angela Flister, Sr. A; Haley Bordner, Jr., M; Allison Remenapp, Jr., G; Kristen Yanchoris, Fr., D
McDonogh: Taylor Cummings, Sr., M; Corinne Etchison, Sr., A; Mallory Schonk, Sr., A; Liz Bannantine, Sr., M; Sofia Robins, Sr., D
The first meeting between the two programs since 2004 features a pair of high-powered offenses averaging better than 18 goals per game, so defense will be critical. Century won the only previous meeting, 12-7, but McDonogh has come a long way since then. Ranked No. 1 in the country in ESPNHS's Fab 50, the three-time defending IAAM A Conference champion Eagles are riding a 64-game winning streak. The five-time state champion Knights rank No. 8 in the Fab 50 and have rebounded from last year's state title loss to Marriotts Ridge despite starting four freshmen.
The Knights have gotten superb performances from Remenapp, who has a .580 save rate and, along with an emerging young defense, allows just 4.6 goals per game and hasn't given up more than eight in a game. The Eagles allow 6.83 goals per game but have played a much tougher schedule. Only three teams have managed to reach double digits against McDonogh.
A look at the results against their only common opponent tells the difference — Century beat No. 7 Notre Dame Prep, 9-4, while the Eagles won 19-7. A few teams have been able to stay with the Eagles for a half, and the Knights could be one of them, but McDonogh's exceptional depth, which enables them to put constant pressure on the ball, simply wears teams down in the second half.
"Every player on the field for them and every player on the bench is very talented," Groves said. "The depth on their team allows them to pressure the ball everywhere, so teams don't get a chance to settle the ball and get into their offense. We have depth too, but not that kind of depth."
Groves, who scouted the Eagles' 20-9 win last weekend over Garden City, N.Y. — then the No. 2 team in the Fab 50 — said she has tried to simulate McDonogh's constant pressure by practicing with an extra player on defense. That way her attack players are always under pressure when they have the ball.
That Eagles pressure makes it difficult for teams to clear the ball and forces a lot of turnovers to jumpstart their attack. Even if a team can hold off the Eagles' attack for a while, it's nearly impossible to sustain any momentum against their defense.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
No. 2 Bryn Mawr at No. 7 Notre Dame Prep, Friday, 4 p.m.
Towson at Catonsville, Tuesday, 5:15 p.m.
No. 6 Severna Park at No. 8 South River, Tuesday, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Severn at No. 1 Calvert Hall, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 5 St. Mary's at No. 3 Loyola, Saturday, noon.
No. 2 Gilman at No. 5 St. Mary's, Tuesday, 4 p.m.
No. 15 Severna Park at No. 10 South River, Tuesday, 5 p.m.