After suffering a rare setback Saturday, the No. 1 McDonogh girls soccer team had the ultimate chance at redemption Sunday.
Up against the nation's top-ranked team, Lenape from New Jersey, the Eagles decisively made the most of the opportunity.
Sophomore Casey Martinez scored an early goal in the first half, senior Ashley Spivey provided insurance in the second half, and the rest of the way the Eagles simply dominated for a 2-0 victory over ESPNHS's top-ranked team on the closing day of the McDonogh Invitational.
McDonogh (3-1) came into the weekend as the nation's second-ranked team, but fell to sixth-ranked Paul VI of New Jersey, 1-0, on Saturday.
On Sunday, they won most every ball, crisply connected passes and gave little space to Lenape, which came into the game with only two losses in the past three years and the winners of four straight New Jersey state titles. Most importantly, the host team was able to finish off its scoring chances — something that cost them Saturday.
"We were a little bummed out with our loss [on Saturday], so playing the No. 1 team in the country is such a privilege and we just wanted to come out and prove we were better than them," Spivey said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more from all of my teammates — they played amazing.
"I think we were more hungry and more physical. New Jersey teams always have a reputation for playing hard, so we wanted to come out and match that if not better."
After struggling to finish Saturday, the Eagles were able to get the all-important first goal 10 minutes into the game when Martinez flicked home a pass sent in from Taylor Cummings.
The Eagles protected the lead with urgency, carrying the play for the rest of the first half and then getting breathing room early in the second half when Spivey finished off a left-footed shot from 18 yards for a 2-0 advantage that stuck.
McDonogh right fullback Jordan Pearson led a united effort in back with goalie Morgan Ruhl (four saves) largely untested.
"I just felt like we played well, but we hadn't been at our best until today," said McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis. "We needed an excellent team like Lenape to get us going. We started so well and that's so important for the team in terms of their confidence. And just the precision of our passing, the movement away from the ball was fantastic. So it was a focused energy."
1 McDonogh 2, Lenape (NJ) 0
M – Martinez, Spivey.
M – Cummings 2.
Saves: L – Johnson 8; Ruhl 4.
Half: M, 1-0Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun