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Archbishop Spalding stops McDonogh in overtime of IAAM A Conference field hockey final

Having missed a chance at least once in overtime to give her team its first Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship, sophomore forward Erin Shanahan was spot-on in her second attempt to secure the title for Archbishop Spalding (21-1, 16-1 conference) on Sunday afternoon against McDonogh.

Her penalty stroke — awarded after the ball lodged under Eagle goalie Hannah Gizzi and was withheld from Cavalier players — with 11 seconds remaining in the first sudden-death overtime period was perfectly placed into the upper left corner of the cage, giving top-seeded Spalding a 2-1 victory over the third-seeded Eagles at Goucher College.

"That's normally where I shoot (on strokes)," said Shanahan, the Cavaliers' leading scorer who estimated the goal to be her 28th of the season. "It has worked for me before, so I decided to do it again."

Gizzi deserved a better fate after turning in a superb 12-save performance in defeat.

"Every time she has been tested this season, she has been very strong," McDonogh coach Halyna Fried said.

The only other goal the junior allowed was also to Shanahan, a rocket off a penalty corner that tied the score, 1-1.

It came less than two minutes after the Eagles (14-4-1, 12-4-1) struck first on a penalty stroke in the 26th minute.

Sophomore midfielder Brindi Griffin converted that opportunity, rifling a shot near the lower left post to beat Spalding freshman goalie Megan Nemecek (14 saves), who also had an outstanding game.

The stroke was awarded after a flurry of penalty corners for McDonogh.

Even so, the Eagles were unable to directly convert any of their 17 penalty corners against Nemecek and the Cavaliers' active back line.

"We just didn't finish on our corners today," Fried said.

Nemecek's poise in front of the cage made sure the Eagles' frustration continued despite numerous chances.

At least once, she came off her goal line and slid toward an onrushing Eagle to thwart a promising opportunity.

"She charged at me, so my job is to charge back," she said.

Being on a big stage did not seem to bother the rookie.

"I play year round for a club team," she said. "So I feel like I've been in this situation before."

The game was so even at the end of regulation that both teams were hamstrung by penalties to key players who were prevented from competing in the 7-on-7 overtime format.

Spalding senior midfielder Patrice Groody and Griffin had to watch from the sideline as their teammates played in the 10-minute extra session.

McD 0 1 O 1

AS 0 1 1 2

Goals: (McD) Griffin; (AS) Shanahan 2

Saves: (McD) Gizzi 12; (AS) Nemecek 14

Half: 0-0

Regulation: 1-1

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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