Category: NDP Feature
Mardiney and Cooper are top players and Ford is Coach of the Year as Blazers sweep VSN's Girls Lacrosse honors
by Derek Toney
The 2018 girls lacrosse season may be remembered as the Year of NDP.
Notre Dame Prep ended McDonogh School's 198-game winning streak and nine-year reign as IAAM A Conference champion and mythical national champions. The Blazers won their first league title since 2003.
Hannah Mardiney was the proverbial straw that stirred the Blazers' championship mix. The senior attack is VSN's Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Sarah Cooper emerged as one of the nation's best defenders with a dominant postseason. Cooper is VSN's Girls Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Year.
A legendary figure in men's lacrosse, Mac Ford built the Towson private school into a champion. Ford is VSN's Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
See below for our award profiles on each.
2018 VSN GIRLS' LACROSSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
NOTRE DAME PREP
Mardiney was the undeniable catalyst for Notre Dame Prep’s breakthrough season. The senior attack is Varsity Sports Network’s Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Mardiney finished with 55 goals and 45 assists for the top-ranked Blazers (17-4 overall) who ended McDonogh School’s near-decade reign in the IAAM A Conference. Notre Dame Prep was ranked No. 1 in the country by Inside Lacrosse.
The Blazers’ 10-8 victory over McDonogh in the IAAM A final at U.S. Lacrosse’s Tierney Field last month ended the Eagles’ 198-game winning streak. It was the Towson school’s first league title since 2003.
“We were really excited because we knew that we could win the championship,” said Mardiney. “We had a lot of confidence.”
The biggest reason was the 5-foot-6 playmaker who was face guarded and or double-teamed in several games this past spring. In the IAAM A final, a face guarded Mardiney was able to set a pick, leading to game’s opening goal.
Mardiney scored the next goal as NDP, which lost in overtime at McDonogh the week before, never trailed in the final, ending the Eagles’ nine-year reign as IAAM A champs. She finished with a goal and an assist after recording a hat trick in the prior match,
“She learned how to get the ball and work off picks,” said Blazers coach Mac Ford. “How good she is is a direct reflection of how hard she works.”
A four-year starter and an all-IAAM A pick, Mardiney finished with 225 goals and 105 assists. She’s been invited to the U.S. U-19 tryouts next month at the U.S. Lacrosse Complex in Sparks.
Mardiney, who will play in the Under Armour All-American game at Johns Hopkins this Saturday, will play for the University of Florida next season.
2018 VSN GIRLS' LACROSSE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
NOTRE DAME PREP
Cooper was the relentless stopper for the IAAM A Conference champ Blazers. The senior is Varsity Sports Network’s Girls Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Year.
Cooper had 42 ground balls and 15 takeaways for top-ranked Notre Dame Prep (17-4), which claimed its first league championship since 2003. The Blazers defeated then-No. 1 and defending national champion McDonogh School.
After failing to hold the Eagles late in regulation, falling in overtime, NDP held its Owings Mills rival to a season-low eight goals. It was Cooper’s interception of a clear and score in the first half that gave the Blazers the lead for good.
NDP allowed 20 goals in three postseason matches.
Cooper said the Blazers focused on making each opponent offensive possession arduous.
“We tried to keep it high pressure all the time,” said Cooper. “If we’re on attackers’ hands, it’s a harder feed for them and try to make sure they had the lowest angled shot they could possibly have. On our ride, we tried to press up as much as we could to stop the ball before it could get down to our eight.”
Cooper along with senior Annika Meyer brought along newcomers Mary Kate Fitzpatrick, Maddie Johnston, Caroline Sommerville and Jordan Tilley on the Blazers’ defense. NDP allowed 6.7 goals over its final 11 decisions.
“She doesn’t know how good she is. She’s like a coach on the field,” said Blazers coach Mac Ford. “She can do it all. She’s big, strong and fast. She can play any style of defense.”
An all-IAAM A selection, Cooper will play in the Under Armour All-American game this Saturday at Johns Hopkins University. She’s been invited to the U.S. U-19 tryouts next month at the U.S. Lacrosse Complex in Sparks.
Cooper will play for Syracuse University next spring.
2018 VSN GIRLS' LACROSSE COACH OF THE YEAR
NOTRE DAME PREP
Showing steady improvement the prior three seasons, Ford and Notre Dame Prep had a historic breakthrough this past spring. Ford is Varsity Sports Network’s Girls’ Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
The Blazers won their first IAAM A Conference championship since 2003, ending then-No. 1 McDonogh’s 198-game winning streak. It was the first victory by a local team against the Eagles since 2009.
After losing in the 2017 IAAM A final and returning seven starters and 21 seniors, Ford was optimistic.
“We had the talent to win a championship, it depended on how things ended up,” said Ford, “if we could peak at the right time.”
After a tough opening March slate including victories over eventual Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champ Bishop Ireton (VA) and Class 3A state champ Glenelg, the Towson school won 12 of its final 13 games. The only loss was an overtime loss at McDonogh in the final week of the regular season.
The setback - the 20th straight to the Eagles dating back to 2006 - strengthen the Blazers’ championship resolve.
“We played well enough to win, McDonogh just made some plays at the end,” said Ford. “We felt very confident. We were very playing well and we could play even better.”
In the rematch in the IAAM A final, Notre Dame Prep scored the game’s first two goals and never trailed, posting a 10-8 victory.
The Blazers won just six games in Ford’s first season in 2015.
Boasting a roster of 40 players the last couple of seasons, Ford and his staff built depth through competitive chemistry.
“We constantly talk about being the top 22 because we play 22 or more in a game,” said Ford, who played 25 in the IAAM A final. “Everybody knows if they go all out in practice they have a very good chance of seeing some game time.”
Ford, who was assisted by Caitlin Forby, Brian Hartman and Kate Somerville, was an assistant on the 2009 U.S. Women’s World Cup championship team and coached on the youth level before coming to Notre Dame Prep where daughters Abigail and Molly played. He was a star attack at Gilman School, leading the Greyhounds to the MSA A title in 1981, earning All-Met and All-American status.
A two-time All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer at North Carolina (won 1982 national title), Ford is a member of the US Lacrosse and Greater Baltimore Chapter Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He’s 55-24 in four seasons at Notre Dame Prep.