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Freshman heads Archbishop Spalding girls soccer past River Hill

Despite dominating possession for most of the game, Archbishop Spalding’s girls soccer team found itself down a goal with 22 minutes remaining after River Hill scored on its first shot attempt of the second half.

Cavaliers head coach Ashly Kennedy said her players remained “resilient” — and none more than freshman Sophie Thibeault, who scored two goals in the four minutes following the Hawks’ goal. The two goals were all No. 3 Archbishop Spalding needed to defeat No. 2 River Hill, 2-1, on Saturday.

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“When you play a quality team like River Hill, moments like that will happen,” said Kennedy about River Hill’s goal. “It’s about how you can come back and readjust and focus. This was a learning moment in these situations that whether or not think the game is in your favor, you always need to anticipate the ball will come to you.”

Thibeault, who scored the first goal off her head and the second off her shoulder, said the Cavs didn’t get discouraged after the Hawks went up 1-0 midway through the second half.

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“We knew that we could win, and we just kept pushing,” Thibeault said. “We never put our heads down. Once we put in one goal, I knew that we could take this game and make it ours.”

Freshman Sophia Thibeault talks about Archbishop Spalding's 2-1 win over River Hill. Thibeault scored two goals in the victory.

The freshman added she “could’ve never imagined” scoring two goals in the matchup between two of the best teams in the state.

“This was a really cool experience,” Thibeault said. “It was the best feeling ever.”

Kennedy said Thibeault has a “knack for the ball,” and she proved that Saturday.

“Every time I’ve put her on the field, she’s always done something that really accentuates the players around her,” Kennedy said. “She’s really stepped up. She’s a fantastic kid. She’s very poised and composed.”

River Hill head coach Brian Song gave credit to the Cavs offense for the goals, but said both goals were preventable with better positioning.

“We gave up two dumb goals because we weren’t goal side (on defense),” Song said. “That’s not being fully engaged in the game. If we would have goal sided both of those, neither of those (crosses) would’ve (led to) goals in my opinion.”

Both defenses dominated the first half of the game at Mercy High School. River Hill (0-1) tallied only three shots, while Spalding (2-0) took only five.

Spalding’s offense took over to start the second half, as the Cavs controlled possession for almost all of the first 18 minutes of the period. The Cavs couldn’t find the back of the net, though, and the main reason was River Hill sophomore goalie Caroline Duffy, who had three fantastic saves in a span of 10 minutes.

“They have a fantastic goalkeeper,” Kennedy said. “You have to find a way to have your forwards break down the defense and not always shoot from distance when you’re playing against a quality goalkeeper like that.”

River Hill celebrates a goal by Minnah Uddin, center, in Saturday's game against Archbishop Spalding.
River Hill celebrates a goal by Minnah Uddin, center, in Saturday's game against Archbishop Spalding. (Nicole Munchel for the Baltimore / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Hawks’ goal was scored by junior Minnah Uddin off an assist by senior Sophia Elguera. Uddin, the tallest player on the pitch by at least three inches, jumped over two Spalding defenders to send home the free kick.

Instead of motivating the Hawks, Song believes the goal gave his squad comfort it shouldn’t have had.

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“That goal took us away from our game,” Song said. “We were on cloud nine because we scored one goal.”

Both crosses that Thibeault scored on came off the foot of sophomore Ashley Tutas.

“Ashley has amazing crosses, and I’m glad I could share those goals with her,” Thibeault said. “She’s an amazing player.”

Spalding’s defense remained stout, holding River Hill scoreless in the final 19 minutes.

This is the second straight year the Hawks have started their season with a loss. Last season, River Hill followed its season-opening loss with 17 straight wins and a Class 2A state title.

“As long as we learn from it, we can’t go backwards,” Song said.

Box score

Goals: AS — Sophie Thibeault 2; RH — Minnah Uddin.

Assists: AS — Ashley Tutas 2; RH — Sophia Elguera.

Saves: AS — Emma Murray 1; RH — Caroline Duffy 6.

Halftime: 0-0

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