St. Paul's Megan Del Monte had a pretty good idea what Archbishop Spalding's field hockey team would use for motivation in yesterday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.
"We beat them last year in the final," said Del Monte, of the A Conference championship game, "and we knew they were going to be out to get us."
Del Monte and her No. 2 Gators teammates proved up to the challenge, using an early goal, superior stick skills and a little bit of luck to make sure the No. 10 Cavaliers did not get revenge.
Sarah Seats scored 12 minutes into the game, and the goal held up for a 1-0 victory for the visiting Gators (4-0, 2-0).
Seats' goal came on a second effort after a penalty corner. Christina Boarman took the initial shot, but it deflected off Cavaliers goalie Marian Cassilly to the right side of the circle. Del Monte sent it back to the middle, where Seats slipped it between Cassilly's feet.
The game had a similar flavor to last year's regular-season game that ended in a 2-2 standoff. The Gators had the better of play early and scored, but this time, the Cavaliers (2-1, 0-1) weren't able to come back despite a well-aimed penalty stroke from Katie Monaghan.
With 2:25 left in the game, the hard-hitting Monaghan ripped her stroke toward the left corner of the goal where it hit the post and ricocheted out to the right. She thought she had scored.
"I saw it hit my inside left post," said Monaghan, "and it came across the goal line and came out. I thought it went behind the goalie and when she split it came right back out."
Gators goalie K.C. Burke said the ball never got behind her.
"I know it hit the post, because I know that sound by heart, and then it went right in front of my toe," said Burke, who finished with seven saves, as did her counterpart Cassilly.
Both officials said the ball never crossed the goal line, and the penalty stroke turned out to be the final act for the Cavaliers offense.
Before the game, Gators coach Annie Morse said she was a little worried about the revenge factor, even though the Cavaliers had taken a huge hit from graduation and were rebuilding. Two of those graduates, Erin Kelly and Caitlin Swift, took with them a combined 33 goals, while the Gators return their entire line.
"They weren't as nervous about the game as, at first, I wanted them to be," said Morse. "but I think that helped us, because they went out there not hesitating and just playing like it was any other game."