The passing was pinpoint and the shooting sensational. When everything was finished, Archbishop Spalding could only shake its head because the Mercy Magic certainly lived up to its nickname yesterday.
Mercy got big games from Heather Valunas, Kaitie Schuyler and others, scored the game's first seven goals and went on to claim its second straight Association of Independent Schools B Division championship with a surprisingly easy 16-6 victory over Spalding at Maryvale.
Mercy (14-4-1), which will move to the A Division for next year, put on an morning clinic -- the game began at 10 a.m. -- against a Spalding (10-7) team that never seemed to get going.
"It was amazing," said Mercy coach Joy Lewandowski. "Today, everything just came together."
Valunas led the way with five goals and one assist and Schuyler added three goals and three assists. Stacey Jefferson (three goals, one assist), Kelley Jefferson (two goals, two assists) and Kristi Korrow (one goal, two assists) pitched in as Mercy showed no mercy against a team it had beaten by only two goals earlier.
Mercy relied on its speed and strong passing and transition games. The Magic repeatedly made great cuts to get open near the cage and finished the plays with great passes and shots.
"We played really well today," said Valunas. "All of our practice really paid off."
Valunas made the day's best pass. With Mercy leading, 14-4, and the issue long decided, Valunas lobbed a perfect 25-yard pass over several Spalding players and right to the stick of teammate Kelley Jefferson at the side of the goal. Jefferson then put in the short shot.
Mercy broke the game open by scoring the game's first seven goals.
The Magic took a 1-0 lead when Korrow scored just 85 seconds into the game, but then Mercy scored its next six goals over a stretch of 9: 47 for a 7-0 lead with 7: 58 left in the first half.
Kat Brady led Spalding with two goals. Spalding was frustrated several times by the work of Mercy goalie Kate Plantholt. The senior finished with 17 saves and stopped the Cavaliers from gaining any momentum.
This was only the second year in AIS competition for the Cavaliers, and coach Tom Prickett said nerves may have bothered his team in its first championship game appearance.
"I think they were just really tight because it was a championship game," he said. "They tried to do too much, but we're really proud of them."
Pub Date: 5/17/98