It’s not often a team moves from the B Conference to the A Conference in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland and has an immediate impact, but Garrison Forest’s girls lacrosse has announced its arrival.
Two weeks ago, the Grizzlies pushed No. 8 St. Mary’s before falling, 14-13, and Tuesday, they surprised No. 6 Archbishop Spalding, 14-7, in the biggest upset of the season so far. Ana Henrich scored four goals while Liza Blue and Alex Goldstein had three each. Megan Mullan made 11 saves.
The Grizzlies won the B Conference championship last season, but they did not beat either of the A Conference teams they played, including St. Mary’s, falling 13-8. They are now 2-2 in the A Conference and 3-2 overall.
First-year coach Jess Onheiser said talent, experience, hard work and a new focus on defense have been critical to the Grizzlies' solid start. Many of these girls have won two straight A Conference field hockey titles, so they know how to win amid the toughest competition.
“I just think there’s a core group of juniors and seniors who are very experienced and have been playing on varsity since they were freshmen. They were a big part of wanting to move up,” said Onheiser. "They play club with all these (A Conference) girls and the majority of them have collegiate expectations. Having such a large group that is committed and willing to put in the work, I’m not surprised we’re competing.”
Onheiser knows how to win too. The former Jess Roguski was an All-Metro midfielder at Liberty and the school’s all-time leading scorer when she graduated in 2000. As a senior, she led the Lions to the state Class 4A-3A final, where they fell, 5-4 in triple overtime, to Severna Park. She went on to play at Vanderbilt and has been an assistant coach at Ohio State and Loyola.
Now she has the Grizzlies in the middle of a tight pack in the A Conference and the defensive play of Kingsley Mooney, Christine Knauss, Kristen Meehan, Grace Emerick and Meghan Cover also has a lot to do with that.
“At the beginning of year, I told them our focus had to be on D,” said Onheiser. “Looking at their record for the last two years, I was not worried about them putting the ball in net or running a set offense. There’s a lot of defense in the A Conference and that’s got to be a solid foundation for us. We work on it every single day. We can change it up and make it look different but D has got to be our No. 1 priority.”
It's safe to say no one will be taking the Grizzlies lightly now.