As a freshman starter last season, Rachel Flynn received her first taste of the pressures that go with Archbishop Carroll's long winning streak in Catholic League girls' lacrosse.
Tuesday night, with the winning streak up to 143 games and an 11th straight championship on the line against Archbishop Wood, Flynn helped find a way to take some of the pressure off her and her teammates.
She celebrated her 16th birthday by scoring two goals in the first 13 minutes of play at Neumann University, helping Carroll to a 5-1 lead. The Patriots didn't let up and recorded an easy 17-5 win over the Vikings.
"It's definitely nerve-racking," Flynn said of the league winning streak, which goes back to the 2002 season. "Nobody wants to be on the team that ends it."
The Patriots (18-3) suffered their last league loss when they bowed to St. Hubert in the 2002 championship game. It was Lorraine Beers' first season as Patriots coach.
"We wanted to win the game," Beers said. "By that, I mean we wanted to take over, take control of the game early. We know how we can score. We have a lot of girls who shoot very well."
Leading those shooters against Wood was Loyola-bound Hannah Schmitt, the Catholic League MVP, who scored seven goals. Teammate Sam Moore added four, and Natalie Schmitt contributed a pair to match Flynn.
"I didn't think we would get so far ahead that quickly," said Flynn, a 28-goal scorer this season. "I got a pass from Hannah for my first goal. We had a good week of practices, and I think that helped us get off to a good start in the game."
The game wasn't three minutes old and Hannah Schmitt already had her first two goals on the board.
It was a frustrating night for the Vikings (13-6), who had finished second to Carroll in the regular season and lost by just two goals in their only meeting. They had to play one player short for much of the second half because of three yellow cards. They have lost to Carroll six straight times in the championship game.
"After our two-goal loss to them, we definitely thought we were ready," Vikings coach John Duca said.
The loss to Carroll was the only one Wood had suffered in league play.
"We didn't bring our 'A' game, however," Duca said of Tuesday's matchup. "We made mistakes, and Carroll capitalized on them. We had good practices. I can't explain it."
Nicole Hayes led Wood with four goals.
In addition to winning the league crown, Carroll also earned a berth in the PIAA playoffs as the District 12 representative. Carroll will open the state tourney against the sixth-place team from District 1.
Archbishop Wood 3 2 – 5
Archbishop Carroll 10 7 – 17
Goals: AW-Nicole Hayes 4, Marisa Palombi; AC-Hannah Schmitt 7, Sam Moore 4, Rachel Flynn 2, Natalie Schmitt 2, Kerri Newbi, Maddie Lesher.
Saves: AW-Emily Hutson 1, Ryann Bucher 7; AC-Nora McGeever 2.