Archbishop Spalding forward Olivia Burkowski was surprised and a little nervous, but mostly excited when she learned she would be starting in the No. 1 Cavaliers’ girls soccer showdown against No. 2 McDonogh on Tuesday.
The junior not only started, but also ended up scoring one of the biggest goals for her side this season.
Sophomore midfielder Lauren Korsnick won the right end line late in the first half and sent a firm pass across for Burkowski, who buried the rare chance from 8 yards. The Cavaliers gained confidence after the breakthrough, buckled down on defense and went on to claim a 2-0 home win over the Eagles. Jess Zimmerman secured the victory by scoring on a penalty kick with 7:20 left to play.
In a battle for first place in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, Spalding improved to 7-0-2 overall and 4-0-1 in the league, while McDonogh fell to 7-2-2 and 3-1-1.
After the teams played to a scoreless double-overtime tie in their first meeting Sept. 19 at McDonogh, it took an additional 30 minutes Tuesday for a goal to be scored.
Burkowski, who didn’t play in the first game, was happy to make the most of her chance with her second goal of the season. Spalding coach Ashly Kennedy told her she got the nod after a strong performance in the Cavaliers’ 8-0 win over Mercy last week.
“It was definitely amazing to score against McDonogh,” Burkowski said. “I didn’t play at all in the other McDonogh game, so when [Coach Kennedy] told me [Monday ] that I was starting in this game I like freaked out. … So I was really excited to play in this game and that just topped it all off. I’m just so happy right now.”
The Eagles, who had an 18-10 advantage in shots the first game, again had most of the possession time in the game’s first 30 minutes Tuesday. But, again, they couldn’t break through the Cavaliers defense.
Korsnick started the game-changing play with a strong run to the right end line followed by the pass in front for Burkowski.
From there, the Cavaliers’ confidence grew and the Eagles, who have 23 goals in their other nine games this season, continued to build an attack but grew more and more frustrated. Spalding goalie Jillian Savageau, the hero with 18 saves in the first game, needed to make only five this time with efficient work from Jessica Wallace and Abby Jeanneault leading the team’s back line.
“Our defense is like a wall back there,” Korsnick said. “They don’t let anything by them, and they’re always able to get the ball up and out and we’re always there to capitalize on that.”
Savageau’s two biggest saves came just before the Cavaliers’ opening goal. She cut down the angle to stop a point-blank shot from Kemper Robinson from the left side and then made a reaction save on a chance from Lilly McCarthy. With 8:50 to play and still a one-goal game, McDonogh defender Maddie Jenner sent a long throw to the near post that Aria Bilal headed through the area, but it went harmlessly out of bounds. The play summed things up for the Eagles.
“It’s all on us — that’s completely our responsibility,” McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis said. “We’re generating chances but missing that sort of final effort in the attacking third. We had so many crosses and opportunities right in front of goal that it just seemed like with a little bit more tenacity we would score. That’s very disappointing.”
1 Archbishop Spalding 2, 2 McDonogh 0
Goals: AS—Burkowski, Zimmerman. Assists: AS—Korsnick. Saves: AS—Savageau 5; M – Van Metre 8. Half: AS, 1-0