No. 1 Garrison Forest's veteran defense anchored an offensive attack that produced a 4-1 victory over Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference rival McDonogh in field hockey Monday, improving the Grizzlies' record to 4-0.
It was the first game of a difficult week for Garrison Forest. After the victory at McDonogh, the Grizzlies are on the road again Tuesday at No. 11 Archbishop Spalding, which is also unbeaten at 2-0, and will travel to Severn on Thursday.
"It's tricky, having a week like this," Garrison co-coach Leigh McDonald Hall said. "This season we have three or four instances where we have back-to-back games. And this week the back-to-back games are both away against tough competitors."
Garrison Forest's senior defensive leaders — Claire Forbes, Garland Mooney, Merritt Davis and Claire Schuler — make it hard for most teams to score.
McDonogh's Megan Whittle managed it once to tie the game at 1-1 with 7:39 left in the first half. She was able to push the ball past senior goalie Kendall Kuntz (six saves), but that was it for the Eagles, who have fast forwards but a lineup that includes six first-year starters.
"It was a team win for us," Garrison Forest junior Megan Rossi said. "I think we all worked together pretty well."
It took the Grizzlies some time to score, though, as the Eagles were intent on using their speed to carry the ball into Garrison Forest's end of the field. At the defensive end, McDonogh's players were backed up by sophomore goalie Hannah Gizzi (17 saves on 21 shots), a first-year starter.
"Their goalie was good with her initial stops," Rossi said. "She was very quick to follow the ball."
Senior Erica Marshall finally scored the Grizzlies' first goal 24 minutes into the game. Senior Geagy Pritchard broke the 1-1 tie with 5:11 left in the first half.
Then, Rossi converted at the near post with 20:05 to play in the second half, going low on one of Garrison Forest's 13 corners to gather a pass from Pritchard for the Grizzlies' two-goal margin. Relly King scored the fourth goal off an assist from Mooney.
As McDonogh coach Halyna Fried watched, her players would try to play the ball through the Garrison Forest front lines rather than go around them.
"We're used to getting away with that," Fried said. "But Garrison is too good for that. Garrison has great skills, knowledge, passing and stick work. … They're a model team. They showed us our weaknesses. We need to figure out how to work together as a team."