Owning territory and creating countless scoring chances, the top-ranked Archbishop Spalding girls soccer team did everything it wanted in the first half of Sunday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game against Mercy except score.
Closing halftime words were simple from the Spalding coaches: "Get excited in there and hit it!"
Junior forward Maggie Morrison was listening.
Two minutes into the second half, Morrison collected a ball from Annie Hogan on the left side and went to work. She cut hard inside to get by a defender, gaining time and space, and then unleashed a shot from 18 yards that found the upper far corner. Her 18th goal of the season was perhaps the prettiest and most important, as it led the Cavaliers to a 2-0 win over the No. 7 Magic that gave the program a successful defense of the IAAM A Conference title, its third in four years.
"It was great," said Morrison. "Annie Hogan played me a great ball wide and I got lucky and beat their last defender - I just looked up and it was just me and the goalie. I looked for a spot, hit it and thank God it went there."
The win completes a 20-0-1 season for Spalding, which went 12-0 against conference opponents and allowed just six goals all season.
"It's tough to run from beginning to end because everybody is coming after you," said Spalding coach Bob Dieterle, who added that this was the program's first 20-win season.
The Cavaliers came out fast and had Mercy (12-5-3) locked into its end most of the first half. But despite five corner kicks and many shots - high, wide or turned away by Mercy goalie Rachel Bourne - they were unable to break through.
Freshman Mo Ostrowski, in her third varsity game, scored the late insurance goal to seal the championship.
For Mercy, which overcame illness and injury and upset No. 2 McDonogh in its playoff opener, the loss doesn't tarnish a fine season.
"We weren't coming here to hopefully play for a tie or anything like that," Mercy coach Albert Oni said. "We came here and truly believed we could win. Spalding, who at one point was ranked the No. 1 team in the nation, scored a No. 1-type goal. That first goal was amazing, so hats off to the goal scorer and hats off to their program for a great game.I thought it was an amazing season and one I'll never forget."
Bryn Mawr 3, St. John's Catholic Prep 0: : The Mawrtians (13-4) got two goals from junior forward Morgan Rubin, and one goal and one assist from sophomore midfielder Riley Barger to claim the program's first conference championship.
Rubin provided Bryn Mawr with a 1-0 halftime lead when she tapped home a shot from senior forward Sophia Sourlis that caromed off the crossbar.
Barger, who dominated the middle of the field, made a nice run with the ball 10 minutes into the second half before finishing a left-footed shot to provide a 2-0 lead.