Early-season girls soccer rankings should have put McDonogh No. 3 with a bullet.
The Eagles, steady climbers the past few years, pulled off their biggest upset yet, beating No. 1 Hammond, 3-1, yesterday.
"We knew this was our only chance to get to the top of the rankings. We beat No. 1 and now we think we should be No. 1," said the Eagles' All-Metro sweeper Alison Schroeder.
McDonogh co-coach Ted Scocos said: "I told the girls this was the best effort I've ever seen a McDonogh team make. They knew they had to play big time, and they did. I think it lived up to a No. 1 vs. No. 3 game. The quality was out there."
The host Eagles (3-0) couldn't have played much better.
After Hammond (1-1) opened with about a 10-minute surge, the Eagles bounced back to dominate most of the rest of the contest. They outshot the Golden Bears, 20-8, and kept the pressure on Hammond's defense.
At the other end, Schroeder led a fine defensive effort that shut down Hammond's top scoring threats, All-Metro striker Kisha Jett and All-Metro halfback Kacy Williams.
Stopper Liz French played a terrific game in stifling Jett, one of the area's quickest players. Fullbacks Alexandra Williamson, Alaina Lawson and Susan Pitt also baffled the Bears' offense.
The Eagles' offense wasn't bad either. Sophomore striker Laurie Schwoy put McDonogh on the board at the 18-minute mark. After settling a high ball about 25 yards out, she kept maneuvering for a good shot and let it go with four defenders closing in on her.
Schwoy also had a hand in the Eagles' second goal 20 minutes later. She surprised the Bears by intercepting a Hammond goal kick, playing it off her body and hammering a high shot off the crossbar. Teammate Jessica Remmel blocked the rebound and scored off of it.
The Eagles' two-goal lead didn't last long, however.
A minute later, freshman Emily Bielefeld scored her team's lone goal with an assist from the rain that began late in the half and continued steadily the rest of the game.
Bielefeld shot wide from the right and McDonogh keeper Sarah Manekin appeared to make the save, but the ball slipped through her hands into the net.
"Getting a goal so you're only one down at halftime is really important," said Hammond coach Dave Guetler. "It ended up being a lucky goal, but we'll take it any way we can get it, especially when we are not playing well."
But Hammond couldn't maintain the momentum. In the second half, the Eagles continued to dominate, although Hammond did have some chances.
"Our offense had some good opportunities, but we didn't finish them," said Kacy Williams. "Sometimes you can get away with not finishing, but not against a team like McDonogh. They played a great game."
Sonia Chase scored the Eagles' last goal midway through the second half. Schwoy gave her a high lead pass out ahead of the defenders, and Chase only had to beat sliding Hammond keeper Amy Nestor for the goal.
While the Eagles basked in the glory of maybe-No. 1 status, Scocos and co-coach Maurice Boylan Jr. were busy thanking Guetler for giving them the opportunity just to play.
"These other [strong public school] teams will not play us," said Scocos, whose squad competes in the Catholic League. "They would rather go play some terrible 4A team for more playoff points, and he's playing a 1A team that he could possibly be in trouble with, and that's got to be known."