Archbishop Spalding field hockey coach Leslee Brady doesn't mind one-sided victories. Coming into Wednesday's game against McDonogh, the Cavaliers were outscoring opponents, 60-11.
However, Brady does appreciate a good struggle now and then, and received one from the Eagles for the second time this season, winning the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game, 1-0, in Severn.
Freshman forward Kyler Greenwalt's goal with 2:50 remaining in the first half provided No. 7 Spalding with its margin of victory. It was the Cavaliers’ ninth shutout in 16 games and the sixth in their last eight.
“It’s nerve-racking, but I will take this,” said Brady, whose team edged No. 5 McDonogh, 4-3, on Sept. 18, in Owings Mills. “I knew they would hold us down offensively, because we scored so many on them last time. I am sure their coach (Halyna Fried) told them, ‘You can’t give them three or four goals.’ I thought it was going to be a dogfight.”
Spalding (15-1 overall, 13-1 league) tested McDonogh goalie Hannah Gizzi and defenders Jamie Troll, Allie Weiner and Elizabeth White immediately in the first half.
But Gizzi stopped two shots in succession from sophomore forward Erin Shanahan, who worked superbly with Greenwalt around the 16-yard circle.
Still, Spalding nearly scored midway through the half when Greenwalt scalded the left post on a backhanded shot while trying to convert an under-the-legs feed from Shanahan.
The Cavaliers finally broke through late in the first half when Phillips redirected Shanahan’s cross past Gizzi into the right corner of the cage from 8 yards.
“In the last game, they scored a bunch of goals on us very quickly, and we were trying to catch up,” White said. “I think we slowed them down a little bit better this game. But they are one of the best teams we have played all season. They really challenged us.”
McDonogh (8-2-1) pushed the ball deep into Spalding territory more frequently in the second half, only to come away away frustrated.
Spalding freshman goalie Megan Nemecek did her part to make that happen by making six saves, including one early on Brindi Griffin’s backhander and Melissa Brodsky’s straight-on attempt in the final minutes.
With 9:35 remaining, Eagles senior Megan Whittle, stationed to the left of the goal, passed to Melissa Brodsky near the right post before the ball skidded away.
“We had the opportunities,” Fried said. “We just couldn’t get it in the cage this time.”