Mount Hebron’s Maisy Clevenger turns in a big performance in honor of her mother, who was on hand while battling breast cancer
by Katherine Dunn
Marriott’s Ridge junior Maisy Clevenger felt more motivation to win Tuesday night’s lacrosse game against Mount Hebron than she has this spring.
In addition to the game being a showdown between arch-rivals, Clevenger wanted to win with her mother, Elizabeth Clevenger, who is battling breast cancer, in the stands. Howard County’s reigning Player of the Year certainly made her mom proud with five goals and two assists in the No. 11 Mustangs’ runaway 17-5 win.
This season the Mustangs and the Vikings are raising money to support those who have cancer and their families and they combined efforts for Tuesday’s game. Marriotts Ridge joined the Headstrong Foundation’s Game Hair Havoc initiative and the Vikings are part of Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer.
Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady said Maisy Clevenger prefers to keep the focus on the team and not to draw attention to herself, but she was okay with the announcement of the two teams’ combined efforts to help families like hers.
“I think having my mom in the stands, knowing we had just had those announcements, knowing that she knows this game is for her pushed me harder than any other game,” said Clevenger, adding that her mother is doing well.
“I know my family appreciates it so much,” she said, “just knowing that everybody has my back and that my family’s not alone, especially since it’s such a hard thing to go through. It’s definitely one of the best feelings ever.”
On the field, Clevenger made sure the Mustangs (4-2) remained undefeated against Howard County competition, giving the host Vikings (3-2) more than they could handle.
The Vikings took an early lead at 2-1 when Jessie Barke found Ellie Smith open in the middle just over five minutes into the game.
A minute later, Esther Yang fed Caroline Albert to tie and the Mustangs would never again trail. Albert’s goal kicked off a five-goal Marriotts Ridge run that included two goals from Clevenger, whose five goals came on six shots.
After Sophia Baxter made a nice dodge to give the Mustangs the lead for good with 17:31 left in the half, Clevenger raced around from behind the crease, took a perfect pass from Sophie Bender and nailed the high near corner. Bender then rolled around to find the same angle before Clevenger slipped another shot inside the near post on a crease roll for a 6-5 lead with 12:20 left in the half.
“We run that play a lot in practice and it’s just like a two-man. It’s the same placement every time. It just always works out if we run it correctly,” said Clevenger, who noted her team’s ball movement and unselfish play.
The Mustangs took an 8-3 lead into halftime, and Clevenger scored the first two goals to open the rainy second half, the first after rolling around the crease and shoveling a low shot into the goal and the second after dodging two opponents through the arc.
Hayley Lettinga and Bender added goals to boost the lead to 12-4. After Olivia Hoover got one back for the Vikings, Lettinga and Albert scored for a 14-4 lead and a running clock that lasted almost all of the rest of the half.
“We found holes and we just kept doing what was working and I think that gained momentum and it gained confidence with the girls knowing that they were able to finish,” said Brady, whose team scored on 17-of-26 shots. “They were actually playing off the sets really well and I think giving them that freedom to play a little free has really helped us, because we do have some really great players that want to be creative.”
Lettinga scored four goals, Baxter and Bender added three each and Albert had two, but Maryland commit Clevenger proved a huge problem for the Vikings, who face-guarded her for part of the second half.
“She’s a great player…,” said Vikings coach Samantha Hall. “She’s fast and she’s lethal in transition and we thought if we stopped her transition game, then it would go in our favor, but obviously we have to do more than that. She proved she can play in 7-v-7 today. That’s what we have to stop next time if there is a next time (in the playoffs).”
The Mustangs also got a stellar performance from their defense of Hope Hettinger, Amanda Windsor, Emi Moran, Camryn Fisher and goalie Grace Hejeebu, who made five saves against 12 shots.
Hall, a former Viking, said playing tough teams such as the Mustangs and No. 3 Broadneck and taking the losses early will only help her young team grow.
“We have a ton of soccer girls and our soccer team won a state championship this past fall and so they know what it feels like and what it takes to win a state championship,” she said, “I know they have fight in them and I know they’re going to rebound.”
Pictured above: Marriotts Ridge junior Maisy Clevenger, shown during introductions, scored five goals on six shots and had two assists to lead the Mustangs to a 17-5 win at Mount Hebron Tuesday. The versatile midfielder, who also had four draw controls, has committed to follow her sister Eloise to Maryland.
NO. 11 MARRIOTTS RIDGE 17, NO. 18 MOUNT HEBRON 5
Marriotts Ridge 8 9 — 17
Mount Hebron 3 2 — 5
GOALS: MR—Maisy Clevenger 5, Hayley Lettinga 4, Sophia Baxter 3, Sophie Bender 3, Caroline Albert 2; MH—Audrey Harrrington 2, Olivia Hoover, Peyton Sims, Ellie Smith.
ASSISTS: MR—Maisy Clevenger 2, Sophie Bender 2, Esther Yang 2; MH—Jessie Barke.
SAVES: MR—Grace Hejeeebu 5; MH—Stephanie Luzhansky 4.