The question brought a smile to the face of Mercy soccer coach Bob Doerfler.
"How do you stick with a player like [Laurie Schwoy]?" said Doerfler. "We did the best we could."
That was not good enough, however. Schwoy had two goals and one assist and teammate Kara Cristaldi added a goal and an assist as top-ranked McDonogh shut out No. 11 Mercy, 3-0, in a Catholic League A Division game yesterday at Loch Raven Middle School.
The two goals and one assist gave Schwoy, the area's leading scorer, 30 goals and 11 assists for the season. Her preseason target had been 30 goals.
And McDonogh (12-0, 10-0) still has seven games remaining.
"She's excellent," said McDonogh co-coach Ted Scocos. "There is nobody better than her."
And Mercy knew the dangers of Schwoy. Mercy (9-3, 7-2) had one defender constantly marking her. Schwoy then often picked up one, two and sometimes three more players as she weaved through the Mercy defense.
But the attention did not bother Schwoy. She out-maneuvered, out-foxed and often simply outran the Mercy players to help McDonogh keep the heat on the Sharpshooters.
The Eagles outshot Mercy, 34-5, and used their great speed and precision passing to keep constant pressure on -- a pre-game goal for Schwoy and McDonogh.
"If we put the pressure on early, we keep it on the rest of the game," said Schwoy.
And that's what happened. The Eagles opened the scoring at the 11-minute mark when Schwoy headed a Nicole Wittlesberger throw-in to Cristaldi, who beat Mercy goalie Lisa Olszewski from 10 yards.
Six minutes later, Schwoy scored her first goal. Wittlesberger got the ball to Schwoy, who split two defenders and fired it in from 10 yards.
Schwoy scored the last goal 31:45 into the half. Cristaldi passed to Schwoy, who flicked it past a Mercy defender. She then caught up with the ball, broke in alone on Olszewski and beat her with a picture-perfect sliding shot to the far post.
"I knew there were two defenders behind me," said Schwoy. "I knew if I could push the ball past the [defender], I'd be one-on-one with the goalie."
Schwoy and McDonogh had numerous chances in the second half but could not convert. The Eagles spent nearly the whole second half in the Sharpshooters' end, but came up empty.
Throughout the game, McDonogh attacked, starting with its defense. Sweeper Alison Schroeder and fullback Alaina Lawson would get the ball and start the push forward.
Then the Eagles would use their speed and passing to set up chances. McDonogh often executed give-and-go plays well, but the small width of the field hurt its passing at times.
The Mercy defense played well, especially in the second half when it blanked the Eagles. Mercy received strong play from fullback Melissa Davidson and Olszewski (six saves).
Schwoy is the biggest spark for McDonogh's explosive offense.
"The kid's a heck of a player," said Doerfler. "You just mark her as tight as you can and hope for the best."