When Archbishop Spalding coach Moira Leavitt took over the girls lacrosse program this season, she didn't care that the Cavaliers had not won a game in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference for the past two seasons.
She saw a group of players who had the skills to not only end that losing streak, but also to perhaps make a run at a conference title. No. 10 Spalding continued its renaissance with a 13-9 victory over host St. Mary's, improving to 7-3 in the league and 11-3 overall.
"We have a new coaching staff that has taught the team new things, and they have accepted it, and they believe," Leavitt said. "At the beginning of the season, all they wanted was some respect. But now they believe they can take it the distance."
Christy Konrad led Spalding with five goals and Danielle Kirk added a hat trick. Julie Schindel led St. Mary's (9-5, 5-4) with three goals. Caroline Cochran and Melissa Perkins each had two.
The two teams traded goals throughout much of the first half. Spalding led by as many as three with 14:58 left in the half, but each time the Cavaliers appeared to be pulling away, the Saints went on a run.
A goal by Cochran, an All-Metro pick headed to the University of Virginia next season, with 15:5 seconds left cut the deficit to 6-5 at halftime. St. Mary's created several chances for itself but struggled to get shots past Cavaliers goalkeeper Cosette Larash (14 saves).
"Our defense was awesome today," Larash said. "I always say, 'If my defense is awesome, then I am awesome.' They are such a big part of my game."
St. Mary's took its first lead, 9-8, on a goal by Schindel with 13:32 left in the game. However, Spalding went on to score five unanswered goals to claim the victory. Conrad had two of the goals, and Danielle Kirk and Katie Kirk added the others.
St. Mary's was playing without its top defender, Danielle Estill, who has a hamstring injury. St. Mary's still won 13 draws, compared with nine for Spalding. The Saints also grabbed 24 ground balls, and the Cavaliers had 12.
"We just wanted to come out strong, and we did that," Konrad said. "This has been a real turnaround year for us."