The potential championship showdown between No. 2 McDonogh and No. 4 Severna Park never materialized at yesterday's McDonogh Invitational Girls Soccer Tournament, but that didn't matter much to the host Eagles.
They were just happy to take the title in a 4-1 romp over an injury-riddled Potomac School team. In the three-game tournament, the Eagles (3-0) outscored the opposition, 9-1, although they needed Ali Andrzejewski's overtime goal to get past another Virginia opponent, Bishop O'Connell, in yesterday morning's semifinal.
As for the Falcons, they rebounded from Friday's 2-0 loss to Villa Joseph Marie (Pa.) to put away Spalding and Friends Central (Pa.) for fifth place.
The final day of the tournament, however, belonged to the host team, which reclaimed the title after losing it to John Carroll a year ago. Yesterday, the Eagles combined the exceptional firepower of All-Metro junior Andrzejewski, a solid defense and a first-time shutout turn in the goal for back Katie Nelson.
Andrzejewski scored seven goals in the tournament, including three in the title match. The defense, led by Nelson and Jamie Hupp, did not allow a goal until the 58th minute of the final. Keeper Mariel Wilner, who rolled her ankle 10 minutes into the semifinal and sat out the rest of that game, rebounded to make six saves against Potomac.
With Wilner sidelined, Nelson made an impressive debut in the nets against Bishop O'Connell. Lacking technique, she adopted a fearless approach that Eagles coach Maurice Boylan Jr. called "a sweeper-keeper style."
Nelson repeatedly raced out to challenge one-on-one, snaring loose balls and repelling shots. She finished with 15 saves, but three in the first half were suberb. Each time, she charged an oncoming opponent to make the sliding stop.
"Shutting down those three players was key," said Boylan. "I'll bet she made them think the rest of the game, 'Hey, she's going to come out on me.' And when she made those three saves, that gave our team confidence."
Nelson's effort sent the game into overtime where Andrzejewski finally netted the game-winner, making a run up the center and hammering a feed from Mary Beth Creed in the 85th minute.
As for Severna Park, the Falcons (2-1) rebounded from their opening loss to win their two games in the losers' bracket.
In yesterday's semifinal, Brook Shinaberry scored in the 76th minute and keeper Kerry York made two point-blank saves afterward to give the Falcons a 3-2 edge over fiesty, young Spalding.
Cavaliers freshman Emily Sullivan had tied the game just five minutes earlier.
"We always play heads-up with Severna Park because it's a hometown rivalry," said Cavaliers coach Bob Greeno. "A lot of these kids play club ball together. But so far, we're 0-2-1 against them."