The Our Lady of Good Counsel High School girls lacrosse team entered this spring as a bit of an unknown, relatively speaking.
Yes, the Falcons have long dominated the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, but there was a question of how good the nationally regarded team was actually going to be. With the core of the program in recent past years lost to graduation, longtime coach Mike Haight’s squad struggled with offensive cohesion during the first half of the season.
But after spring break, a few tweaks were made to the lineup and the Falcons began to play with more confidence. The result? The eight-time reigning conference champions have won their past six games and eight of the past nine.
On Thursday, 10 different players scored for the top-seeded Falcons and they cruised past No. 4 Bishop O’Connell, 18-7, in the semifinal round of the WCAC tournament in Olney.
“We keep telling the girls that everyone has to be a threat and to trust each other,” Haight said. “The other teams double our primary threats and rightfully so.
“The first nine games we were averaging 1.8 to 2.1 assists per game, and the last six games were are up to 9.7. It took a lot of time to build. They were young, but we aren’t now.”
Good Counsel’s leading scorers, juniors Caroline Peters and Shea Cassidy, combined for four goals, but the team’s secondary weapons keyed the victory.
Sophomore Paige Graham scored three goals, senior Jennifer Morrissey recorded a game-high four goals and senior Brittany Noell scored twice. Junior goalie Meagh Graham made 10 saves.
“The biggest thing this year has been getting everyone involved and learning to trust each other because we hadn’t played together,” Paige Graham said. “We’ve all grown up a lot and we are playing our best right now.”
Added Peters: “Everyone is scoring and everyone is getting assists now. It makes it a lot easier and it is awesome.”
The Falcons (13-6) are scheduled to face No. 2 Academy of the Holy Cross (14-5) in the WCAC final at 5 p.m. Monday at the University of Maryland’s Ludwig Field in College Park. Holy Cross was a 9-8 winner against No. 3 Bishop Ireton in the other semifinal. It will be the teams’ third consecutive meeting in the WCAC final with Good Counsel winning the previous contests by a combined score of 43-11.
When the teams met in a regular season game last month, the Tartans led for much of the first half before Good Counsel, which owns a 90-game win streak within the WCAC, pulled away for a 16-9 victory.
“It’s a different team and we’ve had a few more ups and downs this year, so it is a new and different experience,” said Peters. Good Counsel lost just five games the previous two seasons combined compared to six this spring.
“Winning never gets old,” Peters said. “We just have one more game to go to achieve our goal.”
Thursday’s semifinal was never close. Morrissey scored 1 minute, 46 seconds into the game and the Falcons quickly established a 4-0 advantage and led 12-4 at the half.
The second half was more of the same as Haight substituted liberally. Junior attacker Courtney McCartin scored with 2:03 remaining to increase the lead to 17-7, and the 10-goal margin prompted a running clock.
Our Lady of Good Counsel 18, Bishop Denis J. O’Connell 7
Bishop O’Connell 4 3 — 7
Good Counsel 12 6 — 18
ScoringBishop O’Connell (14-6): Rachel DiGiulian 2, Ashley Cross 1, Shannon Cross 1, Catherine Bean 1, Mariel Cardenas 1, Devin Nihill 1
Good Counsel (13-6): Jennifer Morrissey 4, Tori Cerny 1, Paige Graham 3, Brittany Noell 2, Haley Giraldi 1, Alyssa Chalk 1, Shea Cassidy 3, Madison Hoover 1, Caroline Peters 1, Courtney McCartin 1