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Manhasset falls to McDonogh in battle of top-ranked teams

Grace Gately scored three times for Manhasset (2-1), and Emma LoPinto had one goal and two assists.

Ellie Taylor of Manhasset, right, and Kayla Abernathy

Ellie Taylor of Manhasset, right, and Kayla Abernathy  of McDonogh (Md.) battle for control of a draw during a non-league girls lacrosse game at Manhasset on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

Saturday afternoon’s non-league girls lacrosse game between Manhasset and McDonogh lived up to its billing.

McDonogh, a Maryland powerhouse ranked first in the country by Inside Lacrosse, was on the ropes against Manhasset, ranked second in the same poll. But McDonogh stormed ahead late and stalled out the final several minutes, as host Manhasset fell, 8-7.

Grace Gately scored three times for Manhasset (2-1), and Emma LoPinto had one goal and two assists.

“We learned so much from this,” senior defender Olivia Dooley said. “On Monday, we’re going to come to practice with our heads up and move forward and learn from this game.”

Manhasset dominated the first eight minutes of the second half. After a McDonogh yellow card, Manhasset went ahead 7-5 on goals from Ellie Taylor and Maria Themelis. McDonogh scored the final three goals of the game and took an 8-7 lead with 11:28 remaining on Kayla Abernathy’s rip into the back of the net.

McDonogh (9-0) essentially stalled the remainder of the game clock, as Manhasset’s possessions were both short and infrequent. Manhasset earned possession with 32.5 seconds left, but coach Meghan Clarke’s attempt to call a timeout went unacknowledged. McDonogh caused a turnover and sealed the win.

“I would love to see a shot clock in high school, but I don’t think we’re going to get it,” Clarke said. “Our defense did fight until the last horn.”

The defense was stingy, making McDonogh work for offense. Dooley, Erin Trotta, Casey Roszko, Allison Lane and Caroline Mondiello made nothing easy for the Eagles, even with mere seconds left. Kate Barcia and Maggie Arnold pitched in, too.

“They just do a tremendous job,” Clarke said. “They’re always on the same page.”

Their work was backed early by the offense. LoPinto scored for a 2-0 lead and assisted Gately three minutes later for a 3-1 lead, but McDonogh went ahead 4-3 thanks to Izzy Marsh. Gately sent the game into halftime tied at 4.

Offense, however, was a struggle. Clarke said the interior near the cage was too bunched, making it difficult to create. In an ideal scenario, Clarke said her attack would situate itself outside the 12-meter arc.

“They cluttered the [8-meter arc], and those driving opportunities and feeds to the inside weren’t there today,” she said.

Still, this was the type of litmus test most standout teams crave from out-of-state competition. It doesn’t get much better than a matchup between the nation’s top two teams.

Said LoPinto: “Although it didn’t come out the way we wanted, we all played so hard today.”

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