When the pluses and minuses were balanced out after 100 minutes of soccer yesterday in Severn, Archbishop Spalding left reasonably satisfied with its 2-2 draw against No. 11 Mount St. Joseph.
The Cavaliers (1-0-1) twice came back from one-goal deficits, the second time in overtime when Adam Tomas finished from a tough angle shortly after the visiting Gaels (1-2-1) had taken back the lead on Brad Martin's goal.
Spalding coach Jose Florez said he saw good things and bad things in his team's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference opener. What he wants to see is more consistency.
"Every game we play we're going to get better because the kids are smart and they play hard," said Florez, whose Cavaliers dropped two games against Mount St. Joe last season. "We still have our lapses and the kids didn't always show their composure today, but I felt we played well enough to win."
On the other side, Mount St. Joe's coach Mike St. Martin was feeling the same way.
"I thought we controlled a lot of the game," he said. "We're starting to get everyone on the same page and in the flow. We played hard and played physical, but we just couldn't find the back of the net on some chances."
The Gaels came out fast and were rewarded 12 minutes in when Mike Dougherty turned a poor Spalding clear into a 1-0 lead with a strong left-footed finish from 15 yards out. But they couldn't add to their lead despite more good chances in the first half and in the second half.
Spalding striker Brian Baker was at the right place at the right time 10 minutes into the second half when he found an open net from 10 yards out after a miscue in back for the Gaels.
That goal sent the game into overtime, where it was much of the same: Mount St. Joe taking the lead early with Martin's clean take from the edge of the box followed by Spalding's persistence to tie on a rebound goal from Tomas.
After Tomas was sent off in the closing minutes of the second 10-minute overtime - receiving his second yellow card of the game - the Cavaliers still stayed on even terms with the Gaels despite playing a man down.
Joe Meyer, with a cannon shot from 20 yards out, was a crossbar away from giving the Gaels the win with six minutes left.
Andrew Mantini came back for the Cavaliers with a shot from the right side that was just wide.
"The kids had to come back twice and in the end, they showed they wanted to win. That says a lot about our players," Florez said.
Tomas played a strong game in the middle for the Cavaliers before his early departure. He started at stopper in the first half, pushing up and creating scoring chances with strong play in the air, before moving up to center midfield.
Spalding keeper Anthony DiGiulian turned back nine Mount St. Joe shots, with his best save coming with 14 minutes left in regulation when he tipped a shot from Martin over the crossbar.
Dougherty created most of the scoring chances for the Gaels, including a direct kick from 25 yards out that hit the post to start the second half.