Fifth-ranked Glenelg Country School’s Ahearn and Sites come through in the clutch to edge NDP; seven players score in first IAAM A Conference lax setback for No. 2 Blazers

by Nelson Coffin

With exactly 100 second remaining in regulation, the score deadlocked, 9-9, and both teams discussing strategy during a timeout, Notre Dame Prep coach Mac Ford knew which Glenelg Country School standout he didn’t want to have the ball.

So, when play resumed in the IAAM A Conference showdown at Yeardley Love Field on Tuesday afternoon in Towson, he assigned lock-down senior defender Brooke Barger to face-guard Dragon senior midfielder Kate Sites, who had already scored four goals, including the equalizer, a little over a minute earlier.

“We didn’t want (Sites) to beat us,” Ford said.

GCS coach Brian Reese instructed Sites to stand by the sideline and away from the action, giving his offense more room to operate in a 6-on-6 alignment.

That’s when Sites’ fellow senior midfielder and Maryland commit Shay Ahearn took advantage of the situation by driving down the right alley to rifle in the go-ahead goal — her second of the contest — with 49 second remaining to give the fifth-ranked Dragons a 10-9 triumph over the No. 2 Blazers.

“It was a good call by them (to shut off Sites),” Reese said. “But it just gave us more space to do our thing.”

Sites said she was surprised by the defending A Conference champs’ ploy, although it worked to the GCS’ advantage “because everyone on our offense is a great player.”

Ahearn certainly fits that description, considering that she was also stationed in the circle for a team that won 12-of-21 draws, including the final one that allowed the Dragons to secure the victory.

Ahearn said that Sites was on the minds of the NDP defense throughout the game, not on just the last possession.

“Kate does a really good job on her drives,” Ahearn said. “She draws a lot of attention, and that leaves the back side open for us or she gets shooting space called (on the defense).”

Either way, the Sites-Ahearn one-two punch is delivering a wallop this spring for the Dragons, who improved to 11-3 overall and are now tied with NDP for second place in the A Conference with an 8-1 mark. GCS, though, would have the edge over the Blazers (13-3) for postseason seeding if it comes down to a head-to-head tiebreaker.

The difference between the two teams is that razor-thin, just as the competition on the field indicated on Tuesday in a game that was tied six times with three lead changes.

“They just made one more play than we did,” Ford said. “And they did a really good job on the draw, too.”

Oddly enough, and to their credit, the Dragons offset the two extra-man goals they allowed by scoring shorthanded twice, with the final one by sophomore attacker Jaclyn Marszal coming with just 27 seconds remaining in the opening period to shave the Blazers’ advantage to 7-6.

Sites then gave her team the first of three second-half ties on a patented drive through several defenders early in the second half.

The game was subsequently tied at 8-8 and, finally, at 9-9 when Sites buried a free position with just over two minutes left in regulation.

GCS then won the ensuing draw to set up Ahearn’s game-winner.

“We were really happy to score 10 goals against them,” Sites said about the Blazers’ ‘backer’ defense. “It’s not the kind of defense we see that much, and they’re very good.”

Having also lost to Glenelg High School, NDP will look to get its first win against a Howard County school when its hosts No. 3 Marriotts Ridge on Thursday while the Dragons hit the road again to challenge unranked Garrison Forest the same day.

Pictured above: Maryland-bound senior midfielders Kate Sites, left, and Shay Ahearn combined for six goals, including the game-winner by Ahearn with 49 seconds remaining in regulation, to lead Glenelg Country School past NDP, 10-9, Tuesday afternoon in Towson.

GCS 6 4 — 10
NDP 7 2 — 9
Goals: GCS-Kate Sites 4, Shay Ahearn 2, Jaclyn Marszal 2, Sydney Naylor, Maggie Weisman; NDP-Nancy Halloran 2, Ellie Curry 2, Brooke Barger, Charlotte Boote, Kailey Pelkey, Liza Regan, Sydni Rose.
Assists: GCS-Jaclyn Marszal 2, Sydney Naylor, Josie Pell; NDP- Liza Regan 3, Halley Koras 2, Nancy Halloran, Lila Knott.
Saves: GCS-Avery Dyer 6; NDP- Helen Stafford 7.