The top-ranked McDonogh girls soccer team visited primary rival and No. 3 Archbishop Spalding on Monday, and they had a new role.
It all changed last season when the Eagles were finally able to beat Spalding with an overtime win in the Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title game, ending the Cavaliers' run of consecutive crowns.
As the new team to beat this fall, McDonogh was able to pass a stern test with an efficient 2-0 win over the Cavaliers.
All-Metro Player of the Year Ashley Spivey scored on a blistering free kick from 25 yards out seven minutes into play, and All-Metro forward Taylor Cummings added an insurance goal late as the Eagles improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the IAAM. Spalding, which, at times, stayed on even terms but was unable to break through against McDonogh's sturdy defense, falls to 3-2-1 and 0-1 in league play.
"Spalding and McDonogh have a history and it's always great to beat them, especially on their home field," Spivey said. "We were just really pumped up and excited — they've beaten us so many times and finally we're just getting back and jumping on then and it's fantastic to beat them."
The early offense came from a familiar source in the same manner as last year's title game — Spivey converting a free kick with a precise shot to the lower left corner that quickly got past the Cavaliers' wall and goalkeeper Cassidy Babin.
"I was actually practicing [free kicks] before the game, which I've never done before, so it finally worked because I've been shanking them in previous games. It's just the best feeling ever," Spivey said. "To see it hit the net, it's just a big relief and you know you did your job."
Until Cummings' goal with 11 minutes left — a shot from 12 yards off an assist from sophomore Casey Martinez — scoring chances were limited with both teams staying organized in the back. The Cavaliers' best chances came late in the first half on a 15-yard shot from Sarah Ensor that went wide and a dangerous ball sent across by Margaret Quinn that was alertly cleared by McDonogh senior defender Mallory Schonk.
"You know against Spalding you're going to have to be organized because they are very organized and I thought especially in the back we were excellent," McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis said. "At the back it seems like we're just keeping the other teams in front of us and defending really well outside of our 18."
Despite the setback, Spalding coach Bob Dieterle found plenty of positives, most notably a fine effort from a defense that has been hit with injuries.
"I'm really pleased with the way we've played," he said. "Our defense is not the defense I thought it was going to be when we started the season and then it's a different defense then what we had when we played Arundel [Sept. 3]. So I feel very good. The experience-level has been pretty minimal and I thought they responded very well."
1 McDonogh 2, 3 Spalding 0
Goals: M – Spivey, Cummings.
Assists: M -- Martinez.
Saves: M – Ruhl 4; S – Babin 2.
Half: M, 1-0