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Archbishop Spalding field hockey shuts out Mount de Sales, 6-0, in return to varsity action

As Archbishop Spalding senior Lauren Lombardo watched a ball zoom towards her, she almost froze.

“Honestly, it was pretty exciting and it kind of shocked me at first,” Lombardo said. “It’s been a while since I had a game. Finally having the goal come to me, I had a second where I was like, ‘Oh gosh. What do I do?’”

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It all happened in a flash, of course, as the midfielder swung and married solid plastic with net-strings — for the first of two goals — to lead a young Spalding crew to a 6-0 rout over visiting Mount de Sales on Wednesday in a game that would typically pose early Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference implications.

In this pandemic-shortened season, in which the IAAM and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association abdicated decisions on whether to hold fall sports to its schools, the game meant something different.

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“We just take the games one at a time. We’re so lucky to have this season, that’s all I’m really excited about,” Lombardo said. “Having this game, it just means so much, especially senior year.”

Mount de Sales coach Trace Thomson noted Spalding as the team to beat coming into this season.

“We’re moving from B to A [Conference], we lost a lot of top-level players, but we have a lot of seniors,” the Sailors coach said. “We have some girls that are going to be moving on in college. If we do the right things, the result’s a little different next time.”

The Cavaliers graduated 10 seniors after the 2019 season, but if inexperience had ever been an issue this fall preseason, the young team in its wake masked it pretty well.

“They get along really well outside the field, also, and I think that helps the communication. They listen to each other,” Spalding coach Leslee Brady said.

The Cavaliers leapt to a season-ready start, as within minutes the home team got on the board. Junior Becca Lawn swerved through a pocket of Sailors defenders and lined a pass to Lombardo, who potted it just four minutes in.

Less than ten minutes later, Elly Beavers earned the same chance to shine as her teammate by being in the right place at the right time. As a shot bumped off the foot of Mount de Sales goalkeeper Josie Hunter, Beavers flocked to the ball and drove it into the corner of the cage before its protector realized there’d been another threat.

The Sailors stretched the action into Spalding’s territory but never truly put senior goalkeeper Sophie Somerville to work.

After four corners in the half, the Cavaliers swarmed the Mount de Sales circle enough times for one of these chances to bear fruit.

When it did, it was as simple as can be. Spalding forward Bridget Donovan tapped the ball into the playing field. Senior Lily Grant loaded it onto her stick and fired.

Trailing 3-0 at the half, Mount de Sales desperately needed to find a way to sustain its momentum whenever offense approached the circle, but it couldn’t.

The number of moments a Sailors player picked off her opponent and surged towards the Spalding goal were uncountable. The number of times that led to a goal was zero.

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“I think the problem was we don’t get to the circle. Just a breakdown in fundamentals,” Thomson said. “When we had the opportunities, we’re making the wrong choice. It’s an easy cleanup for them. They’ll be back and better the next time.”

Meanwhile, Spalding was just entering the second act of its shutout.

As the third quarter seconds ticked away, the Cavaliers hammered hard on the Sailors' circle every chance it got, beating at the defense until cracks showed. Junior Katie Fichtner scored off Spalding’s ninth corner, darting to the right flank of new Sailors junior keeper Reese Tacka’s defenses and launching her goal mid-step.

Brady credited Tacka, whom Thomson dubbed an “up-and-comer,” for snuffing several of Spalding’s corner-shot attempts, but also her young team’s ability to correct its flaws mid-game when it came to profiting off those plays.

“I think also we were hitting it right at the goal. I think we adjusted after the first four shots and realized if we just crossed it over, someone would be there to punch it behind the goalie,” Brady said.

The Cavaliers never eased up as the third quarter clock neared zero.

When one Spalding attempt met Tacka’s boot, Lombardo didn’t flinch. She took the rebound it and stung it behind the keeper for the fifth score, her second.

“Once I got into it, it was a lot easier. The first goal was the first goal, so it was I just started,” the senior said. “When I got the second goal, I felt a lot more comfortable.”

Even a sophomore stepped in on the scoring party. Just before game’s end forward Ally Keith dug the ball out and netted her first career varsity goal.

“The couple that stepped up from JV to varsity really stepped up today, Ally Keith and Elly Beavers both looked really good,” Brady said. “They were key in the offense.”

Spalding takes a long break before traveling to face John Carroll Nov. 6.

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