Archbishop Spalding came into its Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinal against defending champ Garrison Forest on a roll after beating Bryn Mawr for the second time this fall.
The Cavaliers left the Owings Mills campus with a different mind-set, however, after the Grizzlies' dominating 3-0 triumph propelled them into Sunday's championship match at Goucher College against upstart McDonogh (14-4) at 2 p.m.
At least for awhile, the visiting Cavaliers were able to hold their own against the top-seeded Grizzlies (18-1-2).
In the end, though, the same fate awaited Spalding (11-6-3) as five other semifinal round opponents in succession, beginning in 2006.
"Honestly, we don't go into the season thinking we will get (to the final) again," said Garrison Forest coach Traci Davis, whose team will make its sixth straight A Conference final appearance, winning three times. "Every tournament is a new season. We don't assume anything."
With a rock-ribbed defense that nullified every fastbreak the Cavaliers produced, the Grizzlie offense pressed forward, forcing penalties in the circle that resulted in a whopping 19-6 advantage in penalty corners.
Even with that disparity, the hosts had a difficult time framing shots towards Spalding goalies Melissa Rize or Kellie Harner.
"Basically, we were a little slow on the release," Davis said. "We needed to get our tempo up a little. And Spalding did a great job of coming out on us."
That said, Garrison Forest scored its first goal with 19:08 left in the first half when sophomore Bayley Jarrett swatted in feed from junior Geagy Pritchard.
The score stood until junior Erica Marshall converted classmate Austin Davis' assist with 5:06 remaining in the contest.
The Grizzlies put the game out of reach when Pritchard knocked in junior Claire Forbes' feed with 1:36 to go.
Junior goalie Kendall Kuntz (3 saves) said her defensive mates made her job a breeze.
"Our defense was amazing," the Pikesville resident said about juniors Merritt Davis, Garland Mooney, Claire Schuler and Forbes. "I think we were ready to go. We understood what we needed to do."