Midway through the season, the No. 2 Archbishop Spalding girls soccer team has displayed a strong defense, creative midfield and capable goal scorers up front.
In Wednesday's 2-0 win at No. 13 Mercy, the Cavaliers showed off another important aspect: team depth.
With senior standout midfielder Gracyn Bryant sidelined with an injury, junior reserve Sydney Borum saw more playing time than usual.
She made the most of the opportunity, setting up Lauren Kelly's opening goal with a nifty through ball in the closing seconds of the first half before adding a late insurance goal to help send the Cavaliers home with a win over the Magic. The assist and goal were the first of the season for Borum.
Spalding improves to 6-1-3 overall and further secures the top position in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference's Red Division with a 4-1-1 mark. Mercy (8-6) is 4-3 and in second place in the league's Gold Division.
The Cavaliers defense was flawless throughout the game, giving Mercy limited time and space with goalkeeper Cassidy Babin easily handling two shots.
The Magic were equally stingy for the first 39-plus minutes until Borum collected a ball at midfield and sent a ball in long to the left for Kelly, who took a couple touches before unleashing a left-footed shot from 8 yards past Mercy goalie Madison Collins for the first goal that came with 10 seconds left in the first half.
"It was a real catalyst for us. We tried a few different things and they didn't seem to be working very well. Sydney came in, got the ball and gave an amazing ball and Lauren did the right thing. She attacked, didn't wait and slow down and ripped it," said Spalding coach Bob Dieterle.
The 1-0 advantage was well protected in the second half with defenders Vickie Connor, Katherine Stockford, Brandi Shehade and Jocelyn Wagner giving up no ground. Mercy midfielder Lauren Crusse worked the ball to the left edge of the penalty area 10 minutes into the second half, but Connor stayed step for step to block the attempted shot. Hannah Goff hit one from 30-plus yards, but Babin had no difficulty making the save.
It was the fourth shutout of the season for the Cavaliers, who played then-No. 1 nationally ranked Good Counsel to a 0-0 draw last Wednesday before falling to area No. 1 McDonogh, 1-0, on Friday.
Mercy coach Doug Pryor said his team couldn't find the complete effort that was needed to stay with a team like Spalding.
"The whole group was kind of sluggish and walking through it. In the first half, we battled with them a little and then we stopped working in that last 10 seconds and gave up that goal and that changed the game," he said.
2 Spalding 2, 13 Mercy 0
Goals: S – Kelly, Borum.
Assists: S – Borum, Duffey
Saves: S – Babin 2; M – Collins 3.
Half: S, 1-0Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun