Mercy upends Annapolis Area Christian for second straight IAAM B lacrosse title; Krahl, defense completes postseason run (VIDEO HERE!)

Caleigh Forti was nearly invincible in the net for Mercy Saturday. The sophomore stopped 10 shots, leading an impressive Magic defense that helped captured a second straight IAAM B Conference lacrosse title Saturday against Annapolis Area Christian School.

by Nelson Coffin

It’s not often that a team like Mercy High with a sub-.500 record — in this case a 3-9 mark in league play in the regular season — is the last team standing at the end of the season.

Then again, it’s fitting that it was the Magic who pulled off that trick in the IAAM B Conference lacrosse championship game on Saturday afternoon at Gerstell Academy in Finksburg.

Simply put, Mercy (9-10 overall) threw a wet blanket of a defense over top-seeded Annapolis Area Christian School and packed just enough scoring punch to secure a 9-3 victory and back-to-back B Conference titles.

The Mercy ‘D’ was especially effective in the first half while blanking the usually high-powered Eagle attack.

Sophomore goalie Caleigh Forti (10 saves) was rock-solid, making a slew of stops while shutting out the Eagles for the game’s first 39 minutes playing behind seniors Marissa Lesko and Erin Young, sophomores Meghan Roesner and Dasia McQueen and freshman Hailey Jordan.

Forti said that talking to her father, former Boys’ Latin School and Washington College netminder Tony Forti, calmed her nerves before the game.

She added that her team “worked like dogs” while preparing for the playoffs.

“We gained a lot of momentum and growth (during the season),” Caleigh Forti said. “And it showed in the end.”

Mercy coach Brian Casserly said that while Forti’s play was a key to the victory, he also singled out Lesko for her work “pinching” AACS’s hard-driving dodgers, especially sophomore Lydia Wood.

Junior attacker Bailey Krahl and her sophomore counterpart Mickey Burnett took care of the scoring, combining for seven goals and two assists in the Magic’s title run.

They had ample opportunities afforded to them by dint of good work on the draw by promising freshman Savannah Safchuck.

Krahl (4 goals, 2 assists) and Burnett (3 goals) scored all four goals to lift the Magic to a 4-0 halftime advantage and then Burnett opened the second half with Mercy’s fifth goal before Wood finally broke through for AACS to make it, 5-1.

After Mercy sophomore attacker Madison Laine and AACS junior midfielder Livy Lenhart traded goals for a 6-2 difference, Krahl and Wood did the same to maintain a four-goal margin that widened to 9-3 after goals by freshman attacker Courtney Lesko and Krahl closed the scoring.

“Their goalie is really good, and we were shooting right at her stick,” AACS coach Deanna Thorpe said. “To be down by four goals was not uncommon for us. We just weren’t getting draws. We played better in the second half, but it was too little, too late.”

Casserly said that the Magic’s woes in the regular season were directly attributable to finding the best fit for his players.

Even so, Mercy, the 6th seed in the 7-team playoff, was close in most of its regular season games, losing seven one-goal battles.

That turned around in the postseason, big time, by producing a sturdy win over Catholic in the quarterfinal round and then gutting out a taut 13-12 verdict over Park School in the semifinals.

“The kids were awesome,” Casserly said. “But we had lots of youth and that’s why things went the way they did. We had to find the right position for the right kids. We finally figured it out.”

Mercy 4 5 — 9
AACS 0 3 — 3
Goals: M-Bailey Krahl 4; Mickey Burnett 3 Madison Laine, Courtney Lesko; AACS-Lydia Wood 2, Livy Lenhart.
Assists: M-Bailey Krahl 2.
Saves: M-Caleigh Forti 10; AACS-Taylor Grollman 4.