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Loren Day helped Leonardtown take a giant step forward in its hopes of securing a seventh-straight SMAC girls lacrosse championship after a convincing 15-6 win over host Patuxent on Friday.

The Raiders (10-2, 10-0 SMAC) entered the game undefeated in conference play as did Patuxent, but Day scored five goals and the Raiders put the game away early after scoring seven-straight goals in the first half on its way to a 10-2 halftime lead.

“That was a good game,” Leonardtown head coach Ken McIlhenny said. “We didn’t play as well as I think we could have played. We knew they were a great team and I think they did a great job against us and worked us a bit. This was another good test for us to see if we could play two good halves and we did OK.”

Day said the win was a good test versus a good team.

“Patuxent’s an established team in SMAC and they’ve always had a good contest against us, so we were really fired up about this game,” Day said. “We made sure to execute everything we went over in practice and we were ready to go.”

Leonardtown goalie Madison Carroll, who made seven saves before giving way to teammate Adele Wise, said thinking positive goes a long way toward success.

“I think for most games we come out with a positive outlook that we think we can come out of it with a win,” Carroll said.

The Raiders need to win one of their remaining two games against Westlake or Great Mills, which have a combined record of 7-11 to clinch the conference championship, which has seemingly taken up residence at Leonardtown High.

The Westlake contest was played Tuesday evening, too late for inclusion into this edition.

The Hornets are 7-3 this season and McIlhenny said they could be “a sleeper.” Great Mills will host the Raiders at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Patuxent head coach Anthony Barone said his team appeared defeated once the Raiders showed up on their team bus.

“Second half, [I was happy] once we got over the legend that is Leonardtown,” he said. “I thought [they were ready], but there’s a mental block, especially in some of the younger ones. It was their first time facing Leonardtown, so there might have been some of the [mentality that Leonardtown is] walking on water there.”

The Panthers (9-1, 9-1) trailed by eight at halftime and pumped in two quick goals early in the second half, but Leonardtown answered with a four-goal run.

“We were dropping balls that we hadn't dropped all year,” Barone said of the first half. “It was 10-1 and everyone was like, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose’ and they all relaxed. We did better the second half and I told the girls we have to learn from this and we got better after we got smoked by Leonardtown last year (18-1). Really it was just our mental breakdowns, illegal checks, the mental side of things.”

Despite his team’s big win, Leonardtown is still not playing to its full potential, according to its head coach.

“Oh yes, [there’s room for] big-time improvement,” said McIlhenny, who estimated his team is 70 percent ready for the upcoming playoffs. “We have to focus on executing what we do in practice. Offensively, we threw the ball away quite a bit on the ground and defensively, too many fouls. We can’t let people get on the eight-meter [line]; that’s not a good thing. We have to keep them off the 8.”

With a potential conference title right around the corner, the Raiders are playing it cool.

“I think to stay humble is very important to this team because we do try to go out there and do our best and yes, we do win a lot, but at the same time we have respect for these teams,” Day said. “No, absolutely not [we don't overlook anyone].”

“I think we have two really good coaches [McIlhenny and Mike Denny] who have the drive and want to win as much as we do,” Carroll said. “So they keep us focused at practice so we stay on the right track.”

Barone said it was important to play well in its final two games of the season, at Calvert at 4 p.m. today and versus Huntingtown at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“I think it’s [important] to show what we're capable of,” he said. “We actually got better at some things [tonight]. Our draws were better tonight than I think since I’ve been here.”

mreid@somdnews.com

Leonardtown 15, Patuxent 6

Leonardtown 10 5

Patuxent 2 4Goals: Leonardtown (L. Day 5, K. Finkelston 3, Frowein 2, Ferrara 2, Gassie, Nantz, M. Day); Patuxent (D. King 3, Samilton 2, Stack)

Saves: Leonardtown (Carroll 7, Wise 5); Patuxent (Peterson 4, Leap 2)