Cathedral takes first ISL lacrosse banner since 1995

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The National Cathedral School girls lacrosse team won its first Independent School League banner since 1995. The Eagles defeated Flint Hill 13-12 in a thriller on Monday afternoon at Madeira in Virginia. (Brian Kapur/The Current/May 2017)
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As the National Cathedral girls lacrosse team celebrated its 13-12 win over Flint Hill in the Independent School League’s A Division title game on Monday, the Eagles were handed the championship banner.

In that moment, it dawned on them — they would finally add a lacrosse accolade to the rafters at Cathedral’s home court for the first time since 1995. “It’s a banner! We got a banner!” screamed junior attacker Nicole Manos.

Upon hearing Manos’ words, the Eagles erupted into celebration after holding off the top-seeded Huskies’ furious second-half rally.

“It’s about time to be honest,” Eagles head coach Mindy Urick said. “We have been working hard the last four years and progressing. This senior class has been working to get us to this point. Our seniors were leading the way.”

For Urick, it was a chance to join the family business as a championship-winning lacrosse head coach. Her father, Dave Urick, and brother, Scott, each carved out names for themselves in the sport: Dave guided the lacrosse team at Hobart College to 10 straight national titles before leaving to serve as longtime head coach at Georgetown University. Meanwhile, Scott was an All-American player for the Hoyas and served as an assistant coach at Georgetown and head coach at the University of the District of Columbia; he is currently the head lacrosse coach at Georgetown Prep.

“It’s a family business,” said Mindy Urick. The coach also joked that she is closing in on her dad’s 10 championships: “One down, nine to go.”

The Eagles laid the foundation for this title win when Urick took over four years ago and grew into the role along with the team’s current senior class.

“The personality of the team developed so much,” senior midfielder Addy Wolf said. “Her getting closer to us and us all being new together really made a difference. It felt like the coaches and us grew up together.”

The Eagles also cemented their chemistry with a team trip to Florida, where they played three games.

The National Cathedral School girls lacrosse team won its first Independent School League banner since 1995 on Monday, defeating Flint Hill 13-12. (Brian Kapur/The Current/May 2017)

“This has been the closest team,” said senior attacker Honor Gabriel. “On our trip in Florida we were really close, and the bonding really made all the difference. There is nobody on this team that I don’t love completely.”

On Monday, Gabriel led the way with four goals, sophomore midfielder Chloe Conaghan added three, and Wolf and freshman midfielder Samantha Douki each added a pair. In addition, Manos and junior attacker Zoe Lach each scored once. Defensively, the Eagles were anchored by six saves from sophomore goalie Lilly Keller.

While the game ultimately came down to one goal, Cathedral showed its championship mettle by jumping on top of the Huskies from the opening draw. The Eagles raced out to a quick 4-0 advantage thanks to Conaghan, who sparked the run with two quick scores.

The Huskies ended the shutout by scoring with 19:48 to go in the first half. But Cathedral responded with a 4-1 scoring run to push the advantage to 8-2.

Flint Hill finally found a groove and showed why they won the ISL A regular-season crown. The Huskies reeled off four unanswered goals to trim Cathedral’s advantage down to 8-6 by halftime.

The Huskies came within a goal after a score early in the final half, but Cathedral once again padded the advantage when Gabriel and Douki each scored to push the lead back to 10-7 with 17 minutes to play.

That’s when the Eagles chose to take advantage of the clock and use long possessions to bleed time and preserve the win.

“I honestly lost my sense of the clock completely. We just focused on protecting the ball. I just knew we had to keep possession,” said Wolf. “When it gets down to those final minutes in a game like this, your animal instincts kick in — you can’t think about the details or scoreboard. You just have to do the basics.”

When the Eagles didn’t have the ball down the stretch, Keller caught fire between the pipes and made four critical second-half saves.

“It’s a really tough position. You go in streaks,” Urick said. “She got on a hot streak right when we needed her to. She was the backbone down there that we needed.”

Ultimately the strategy paid off as the Huskies’ comeback ran out of time and the Eagles spilled onto the field to celebrate the win.

“I tried to keep us a couple of steps ahead. The clock was very slow,” Urick said with a laugh. “We made this game awfully exciting. We played an opponent that challenged us in all aspects across the field. We just barely played slightly better than they did today. It’s all due to the tremendous energy and heart and spirit this team brings to the field.”

While the win earned the Eagles the title of co-champions alongside Flint Hill, which won the regular-season crown, it doesn’t bump Cathedral into the upper division for next spring. That honor goes to the Huskies by virtue of their regular-season performance. Even so, the Cathedral players are proud of their title. “The feeling of being able to leave something and a legacy at Cathedral is incredible,” Wolf said.

This post has been updated to correct an inaccurate reference to the Eagles as the Cubs, and to state that Scott Urick is Georgetown Prep’s lacrosse coach, not soccer coach.