No. 7 Spalding field hockey OK with 'nerve wracking,' 1-0 win over No. 5 McDonogh

After several early season blowouts, the Cavaliers, showed they know how to win a close one when freshman forward Alexis Phillips scored with 2:50 remaining in the first half.

Like any other coach, Archbishop Spalding's Leslee Brady is OK with a lopsided victory.

Brady has grown accustomed to seeing the Cavaliers win in such a manner this season, considering they were outscoring opponents, 60-11, entering Wednesday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game against visiting McDonogh.

Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they know how to win when it's not a blowout, too, as freshman forward Alexis Phillips' goal with 2:50 remaining in the first half enabled No. 7 Spalding to defeat the Eagles, 1-0, in Severn.

It was the Cavaliers' ninth shutout in 16 games and the sixth in their last eight tries in their second one-goal win over the No. 5 Eagles this season.

"It's nerve racking, but I will take this," said Brady, whose team also edged 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 Phillips around the 16-yard circle.

Still, Spalding nearly scored midway through the half when Phillips 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 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 left of the goal, passed to 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."

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