Archbishop Spalding and Notre Dame Prep have developed a highly intense soccer rivalry in recent years, and all the meetings have commonalities.
There are added nerves in the beginning, every ball is fiercely challenged throughout, and there’s an understanding that special effort wll be required to break through.
On Tuesday, Spalding’s Jenna Snead was eager to make a difference.
Crashing the middle of the Blazers’ penalty area to get to Kaitlyn Keaton’s corner kick, the junior midfielder scored the game’s only goal to give the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions and No. 1 Cavaliers a 1-0 win over No. 12 Notre Dame Prep in a rematch of last year’s title game.
The Cavaliers, who needed penalty kicks to beat the Blazers in last year’s big game, improve to 4-0-1 overall and 1-0 in the IAAM. Notre Dame Prep, still searching for its first goal of the season, drops to 0-2-1 and 0-1 in league play.
After taking hold of the game in the latter stages of the first half, the Cavaliers found the needed offense with the picture-perfect set piece that Snead finished on.
“It was a great service from Kaitlyn and I got a little lucky — it happens,” she said. “I got by my player and Kaitlyn played a great ball that skipped by the center back and I just got on it. It just went right by the goalie and I was so happy it went in.”
The visiting Blazers came out a bit faster that the Cavaliers, but they weren’t able to get any significant scoring chances to take advantage. The Cavaliers gradually took over — using the entire field to connect passes and keep more possession. They had the best chance of the first half in the closing minutes when Zandy Gardner found space on the left side — first collecting a long pass sent in from the other side by Courtney Corcoran — and cleanly struck a left-footed shot from 14 yards that was just wide of the far post.
Coming out for the second half, Spalding did the little things right to earn the game’s only goal. It started with some fine work with the ball from Abby Hanks, who got around the left corner that earned the deciding corner kick.
After Keaton’s well-placed corner, Snead, who was named a captain this season, took care of all the offense the Cavaliers needed.
“Jenna is our rock,” Spalding coach Ashly Kennedy said. “She’s the one that will be a game changer in the sense when we need her in big moments and we need her leadership, she’s going to be that. She’s been doing so well and I’m proud of her ability to come alive and step up.”
The Blazers got seven saves from senior goalkeeper Gabrielle Christy, who made a brilliant diving stop on Hanks’ penalty kick with 14 minutes to play to keep the visitors within a goal.
But they were not able to test Cavaliers goalie Jillian Savageau (two saves) the rest of the way. Despite the setback, Notre Dame Prep senior captain Jenna Kraft saw positives to build on.
“I thought it was a pretty even match,” she said. “I thought they had some good players, but I also think we have good players too. I just think we need to work more on defending off set pieces and I think we are the better team. We have a lot more fight than they do, so I definitely think our next match against them will be a good one.”
Goals: AS—Snead. Assists: AS—Keaton. Saves: NDP—Christy 7; AS—Savageau 2. Half: 0-0