In its first two wins this season, the No. 1 McDonogh girls soccer team scored goals in bunches — 17 in all before Saturday's home game against No. 2 River Hill.
The visiting Hawks made things much more difficult.
It took 66 minutes before McDonogh finally broke through on its 13th shot on goal. After Gaby Vincent's corner kick, it took three chances in front of the net before All-Metro first-team selection Bridgette Andrzejewski, a junior forward, found an opening in the heavy traffic past River Hill goalkeeper Julia Craine. It wasn't the prettiest of the 11 goals Andrzejewski has scored this season, but it was well earned and helped send the Eagles on their way to a 2-0 win over the Hawks.
Forward Kia Rankin doubled the lead with 2:25 to play, finishing a cross sent in by Marcela Robinson. The Eagles improved to 3-0 with their third shutout, while the Hawks fell to 3-2.
"We just had to keep tough because we had a lot of shots that we unfortunately didn't get in the goal. But after the first one, we got the second one from Kia, so it was good," said Andrzejewski. "Being in a close game late showed that we really need to be tough in the second half, and I thought we did that. We're very happy with it."
The Eagles had the ball most of the first half, putting eight shots on goal, but Caine (14 saves) and the Hawks defense kept them in check.
Early in the second half, River Hill had its best scoring chance when junior midfielder Jessica Hopkins sent a hard, low free kick from 30 yards that McDonogh goalie Lindsey Clark stopped with a diving save. After Andrzejewski hit the crossbar and Rankin hit the post in the second half, the Eagles remained persistent and finally were able to gain an advantage. Vincent's corner kick to the far post led to a Eagles shot, which was blocked and cleared off the goal line by a defender. Caine stopped the second attempt. Andrzejewski wasn't going to be denied when the ball stayed in front for a third.
"River Hill was excellent all night. I thought in the second half, we raised our level a little bit from the first half and created a lot of chances," McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis said. "The first goal was not the prettiest, but I thought that was deserved from the pressure we put on them. We moved the ball well, and I was proud of the team. We knew this was going to be a good test for us and, for sure, River hill played really well."
What most impressed River Hill coach Brian Song was how his team didn't back down from the Eagles, who are more experienced and have a number of Division I prospects. The teams scrimmaged a couple weeks ago, with McDonogh winning comfortably, 5-0. Saturday showed the strides the Hawks have made.
"Not bad," Song said. "I think our girls, as always, proved they have heart. They showed it. This is the early part of the season, so it's just [important to] keep on getting a little better every day, and the girls definitely stepped up tonight."
1 McDonogh 2, 2 River Hill 0
Goals: M – Andrzejewski, Rankin
Assists: M – Robinson
Saves: M – Clark 2; RH – Caine 14