Archbishop Spalding midfielder Marissa Brown sent a perfect cross to the middle in the closing minutes of the game against visiting Catonsville on Monday, and forward Sarah Ensor one-timed a shot that was headed on goal.
But Comets defender Lauren Vogelpohl was where she needed to be — between Ensor and the goal — to block the shot. The ball was cleared immediately after.
If there was one play that depicted the solid 80 minutes of play from both sides, it was that one. Both teams had scoring chances, and both simply played better defense as No. 4 Spalding and No. 13 Catonsville played to a 0-0 draw. Because it was a nonleague game, no overtime was played after regulation.
Spalding improved to 9-2-1, while Catonsville is now 8-1-3 on the season.
For Catonsville first-year coach Gary Lynch, who was previously the longtime coach at Spalding's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference rival John Carroll, it was a test that he was looking forward to seeing for his Comets, who were Class 4A state finalists last season.
The game mostly was played on even terms — Catonsville goalkeeper Natalie Croom made seven saves, and Spalding's Corinne Willard turned away five — and both Lynch and Spalding coach Ashly Kennedy left finding positives coming from their respective teams.
"You're limited to how many games you can have outside [Baltimore County], and I was really tickled to see these guys on [the schedule] because I knew from having played them last year that regardless what they graduated … they would be a contender again in the IAAM," Lynch said about Spalding. "And we feel if we can play with the IAAM, then we can play with our own schools.
"We have some very good schools in Baltimore County, and there's very good teams in the IAAM, so if you can play with both of them, you have a decent team."
Kennedy said she was looking for her team to match the Comets' physical play, as well as their soccer skills, and the Cavaliers did just that. She was pleased with how the defense stayed patient and contained the Comets when they were getting forward.
In the final five minutes, it was the Cavaliers' offense that produced the game's best scoring chances. With less than two minutes to play, Brianna Starr got behind the Comets' defense and chipped a shot over a drawn-out Croom from 8 yards, but the chance went just high over the crossbar.
"Opportunities come within the game, and some moments, luck is on your side, and some others not. But I was proud to see the girls create those chances and opportunities," Kennedy said. "Unfortunately, the soccer gods were not necessarily on our side at the end, but it happens. It's part of the game, it's why you play it, and we've got to continue to build and work hard."
Spalding returns to IAAM play when they travel to face No. 12 Notre Dame Prep on Tuesday, while Catonsville next plays a Baltimore County game at home against Kenwood on Friday.
13 Catonsville 0, 4 Archbishop Spalding 0
Saves: C – Croom 7; AS – Willard 5.