St. Mary's senior Kristen Gaudreau found herself all alone at the far post in the first half yesterday against visiting Garrison Forest, and she pounced on the chance to give the No. 7-ranked Saints an early lead.
For the No. 5 Grizzlies, who spent significant time inside St. Mary's scoring circle, a chance like that never came.
Instead, company was always nearby as the Saints' defense denied and denied some more, protecting a lead that would turn into a well-earned, 1-0 win.
St. Mary's improved to 9-2-3 overall and remained unbeaten in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's Applebee Division with a 3-0-1 mark. The Grizzlies dropped to 7-3-4 and 2-2-1 in division play.
The stat of the day was the number of shots that St. Mary's senior keeper Addie Lewis had to rebuff -- three.
The Saints' defensive group -- Jamie McGraw, Colleen Siebert, Courtney Thornton and sweeper Krystle Stevens -- got in the way of everything else.
"They were right on us, not giving us any time or space. They just didn't let us get anything off," said Garrison Forest coach Micul Ann Morse.
"We just couldn't quite make it happen and they made the most of converting their good chance."
The Grizzlies had three penalty corners early in the first half, with Caroline Cox, Kate Wheeler and Whitney Hart coming out fast, but unable to convert.
On St. Mary's score, Morgan Thalenberg chased down a ball on the left side and sent a strong cross that found Gaudreau, who put in her seventh goal of the season.
"Morgan sent the cross and it went past a couple of defenders," said Gaudreau. "I just thought, 'If I miss this shot, I'm going to die.' But I got it."
After the Grizzlies recorded a 5-0 advantage on penalty corners in the first half, the Saints got a much stronger effort from their midfield to even the field in the second 30 minutes.
But their defense was still called upon.
McGraw cleared a ball from in front by Grizzlies senior Mindy Walman with 7: 45 left. Stevens was always on hand the the rest of the time.
"We just work hard and try to keep everything to the outside," said Stevens.
"Communication is the big thing. We talk well with our midfielders and with Addie our keeper and just try to keep it out."
The St. Mary's seniors -- 16 in all -- are intent on making the most of their final days of high school field hockey.
"We've been so close for so long," said Lavell. "Now, it's getting to the point where they never say die. All it takes is letting down for one minute, but they just don't want to give up one goal."