The blustering wind favored no one on Love Field Wednesday in Severn, but Notre Dame Prep sure figured out how to take advantage of it against Spalding.
When the draw leaned the Cavaliers’ way, the Blazers capitalized on turnovers and spurred a potential rally towards the end by the home team to stay undefeated with an 11-6 win.
“I think we did better in the second half. It’s a great win for us,” NDP coach Mac Ford said. “We got more draws, controlled the ball.”
Blazers attack Nancy Halleron watched as the ball left the draw circle more often than not in the stick of a Spalding player. But the draw specialist put her stamp on the game in other ways.
Halleron answered Spalding’s 2-0 start with a pair of her own goals, the first of five goals she would have to lead NDP (7-0 overall, 7-0 IAAM A Conference) on the scoresheet.
“She’s our most valuable player in the game,” Ford said. “What she does in the draw circle, she comes up big in the attack. She’s very tough to handle.”
Spalding (3-7 overall, 3-7 IAAM A) continued to win draws despite the Blazers’ run, yet it struggled to maintain possession. Many passes passes bounced out of reach in the gusty conditions, but the visiting team had much more luck. NDP scored three of its next four goals directly off Cavalier turnovers to take a 6-3 into the second half.
“Turnovers can really change the tempo quickly. That is the best team for sure we’ve seen, potentially the best team in this league,” Spalding coach Tara Shea said. “I’m really, really proud of how our girls played through our game plan.”
Halleron said NDP always talks about being better than whatever outside force is at play, whether that be officiating, weather or another force of nature. When the wind hampered typical plays, they adjusted.
“We had to really try to come up with those [50-50 balls]. I would say defense was a big help,” Halleron said. “We couldn’t win the draw; they came up with it. We got motivated, defense got it, and we just had to break it down and get a quick one.”
The Cavaliers temporarily controlled the tempo in the second half. Junior Bella Saviano (three goals) scored the first goal of the frame and narrowed the gap to two.
“We had to settle down, get a big breath, play defense well,” Ford said.
NDP went cold for 10 minutes, leaving the door open for Spalding, but when the Blazers clamped down and scored some necessary insurance. Had they not bagged two goals, capped off by Halley Koras (three goals), they could have lost their lead in the next several minutes.
Still, Spalding’s offense wasn’t done yet. The Cavaliers won their ninth and 10th draws and Delaney McDaniel and Lily Grant turned them into goals to cut the deficit again to two, 8-6.
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“Little errors catch up to you in the end there, and then the double-card on our draw girl, all those things piling up just became a little too much,” Shea said.
The Cavaliers lost their main draw specialist, McDaniel, to cards, and NDP started winning them. The victor in the circle, Halleron, also proceeded to net not one, not two, but three straight goals to put the game out of reach.
Ford credited how Halleron stepped up at the circle to protect the ball more on the draw.
“For us to do well, she’s gonna need to have some big games,” he said.