McDonogh’s Blair Pearre and Spalding’s Olivia Malamphy are VSN’s best in girls lacrosse; Scanlon and Cummings share top coach honors
by Derek Toney
The 2019 area high school girls lacrosse season feature returns to glory and historic firsts.
South Carroll won its first championship while perennials McDonogh School (IAAM A Conference) and Severna Park (Class 4A) regain its championship touch. Patterson Mill (Class 1A) and Westminster (3A) claimed a second straight state title.
Blair Pearre’s efforts helped McDonogh School gain redemption this spring. Pearre is VSN’s Player of the Year.
Olivia Malamphy was at the fore of a spirited title charge by Archbishop Spalding. Malamphy is Defensive Player of the Year.
McDonogh’s Taylor Cummings and South Carroll’s Brigid Scanlon led their respective alma maters to a title. Scanlon and Cummings are Co-Coaches of the Year.
Here are the stories of each of our 2019 girls lacrosse award winners:
2019 VSN GIRLS LACROSSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Pearre rose as McDonogh reclaimed its place atop the area girls lacrosse mountain. The senior midfielder is Player of the Year.
Pearre finished with 53 goals and five assists for the undefeated and No. 1 Eagles (21-0), who won their 10th IAAM A Conference title in 11 seasons. McDonogh defeated St. Paul’s School in the title game.
After losing in the league final – ending a national record 198-game winning streak – Pearre and the Eagles were eager to start a new chapter this spring.
“That [win streak] will never go away. That will be always be history,” said Pearre. “We got a chance to start fresh.”
The start also a meant a new position for Pearre, who played midfield last season.
“It was a big adjustment, but I wanted do whatever I could,” Pearre said. “I had to embrace the challenge.”
Pearre answered in the biggest games. She had 6 goals in the Eagles’ 10-7 victory over Archbishop Spalding in the IAAM A semifinals.
With McDonogh down 4-2 late in regulation in the IAAM A final, Pearre converted a free position and found teammate Emma Schettig for the game-tying score. The Eagles won, 5-4, in double overtime.
“She’s a player who likes have the ball in pressure situations,” said McDonogh first-year coach Taylor Cummings. “That takes a special kind of confidence.”
Pearre, who scored 51 goals last season, will play in the Under Armour All-America game at Johns Hopkins University on June 30. She will play for Towson University next spring.
2019 VSN GIRLS LACROSSE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Malamphy was the proverbial straw that stirred Spalding’s defense this spring. The senior is Defensive Player of the Year.
She had 57 ground balls and caused 17 turnovers for the Cavaliers (15-4; No. 8 in final VSN Top 20), who reached the IAAM A Conference semifinals for the first time since 2015. The Severn school lost to eventual champ and top-ranked McDonogh School in the IAAM A final four.
“She’s a difference maker,” said Spalding coach Tara Shea. “Without her, we would struggle to find ways to dominate the game.”
The speedy Malamphy always drew the opposition’s top offensive threat. The Cavaliers allowed 115 goals in 13 IAAM A matches (including postseason) this spring.
Malamphy said offseason conditioning and working with Spalding attack unit made her a better defender this spring. She wanted to make a lasting impression.
“It was really important to work hard and set an example for the younger players,” said Malamphy, who was a second-team USA Today All-American selection in 2018.
Malamphy credited defensive mates Strickland Schumacher, Paige Gunning, Lily Grant and Keeley McNemar. Spalding held six opponents to season’s low in goals this spring.
A preseason USA Today All-American, Malamphy was a three-time all-MIAA A selection. She will play for NCAA Division I finalist Boston College next spring.
2019 VSN GIRLS LACROSSE CO-COACH OF THE YEAR
Arguably the program’s greatest player, Cummings returned McDonogh to glory in 2019. Cummings is Co-Coach of the Year.
The Eagles went wire-to-wire as the consensus No. 1 team in the area, capping a 21-0 season with its 10th IAAM A Conference championship. The Owings Mills school started the spring campaign in unfamiliar territory after its record 198-game winning streak was ended in the 2018 IAAM A final.
“I think the loss while devastating you could see a weight lifted off their shoulders,” said Cummings, who was an assistant in 2018. “To come into this year with no win streak, no championship streak, new coaches, it felt like a new start.”
The 2019 Eagles weren’t the intimidating juggernaut of past teams, but, like those past squads, came up clutch in dire spots. They rallied from a 5-1 deficit to win at St. Paul’s School during the regular season.
Down two goals in the second half at then-nation’s No. 1 New York’s Manhasset, McDonogh scored the final three goals to eek out an 8-7 victory. In the IAAM A final, McDonogh was stymied by St. Paul’s for most of regulation, but scored twice in the final five minutes to force overtime.
The Eagles won, 5-4, in double overtime.
“Throughout the season they were battle tested and when it came down to the most important game, down two with four minutes you would think they would panic and they didn’t,” said Cummings. “They had belief in each other.
There was a lot of new thrown at these girls. I commend them for being really open to change. They had a lot of resiliency and grit.”
Cummings, who led McDonogh to four IAAM A titles before winning a record three Teewaarton Award (top women’s player) and two national championships at the University of Maryland, credited assistants Mary Beth Todd, Emily Kisp and Eva Winiarski.
Cummings, the first female athlete to win back-to-back VSN Player of the Year honors (2011 and 2012), is the first former Player of the Year to be selected Coach of the Year.
2019 VSN GIRLS LACROSSE CO-COACH OF THE YEAR
Scanlon’s steady build culminated with history in 2019. The seventh-year coach is Co-Coach of the Year.
The Cavaliers (16-1; No. 3 in final VSN Top 20) won their first state championship, claiming the Class 2A crown with an overtime victory over Hereford. The Carroll County school hadn’t play in a state title game since 1993.
After a breakthrough 2018 campaign (12-2), Scanlon thought South Carroll had the ingredients to continue building this spring.
“We’ve talked about reaching the state championship, I don’t know if it was reachable,” said Scanlon. “Our county is tough to get through.”
The Eldersburg school defeated perennial strongholds Westminster, which went on to win a second straight Class 3A state title, and Manchester Valley, the first Carroll County program to win three consecutive state titles (2014-2016). The Cavaliers suffered their only loss of the season to Century.
Scanlon said the 16-6 drubbing changed the course of South Carroll’s season.
“This isn’t going to work if we don’t start trusting each other,” Scanlon said was the message afterwards. “We really started to excel.”
The Cavaliers won the rematch with Century (14-10) in the West Region playoffs, paving the way to their first state semifinal since 1993.
“Once we got past them, it was like “let’s go all the way til the end,” said Scanlon, whose roster consisted of five seniors who’ve been playing together since 2nd grade and 13 juniors who’ve played together since 3rd grade.
Down 4-0 early in the state final, South Carroll rallied. The Cavaliers scored in the waning moments of overtime to complete their finest campaign.
“Words can’t really express it,” said Scanlon, who was 4-10 in her first season.
Scanlon, a three-sport athlete at South Carroll (graduated in 2007), credited assistants Bill Smith, Danielle Prietz and Bryn Gibson. The 2012 Mount St. Mary’s graduate (four-year starter at goalie) is 56-45 in seven seasons as Cavaliers coach.