Spalding senior Delaney McDaniel’s first shot at victory expired in the hands of Severn goalkeeper Arielle Hillock.
McDaniel reacted quickly, however. She picked up the rebound and flashed a shot behind Hillock, instantly switching the momentum in the see-saw game in the Cavaliers’ favor for good.
The Spalding senior led the way with a hat trick to gift the No. 7 seed Cavaliers a 9-7 win over No. 10 seed Severn on Wednesday afternoon and another game to play in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference playoffs over No. 10 Severn. Spalding will face No. 2 seed McDonogh in the IAAM quarterfinal round Friday in Owings Mills.
“The last couple weeks we’ve talked about trying to be more disciplined and dominate more pieces of the game to win,” Spalding coach Tara Shea said. “Severn came super prepared and had a great game plan. They made us make adjustments. But I was so proud of our kids to be able to give us another game in this league.”
This win meant two things for McDaniel: winning, of course, continued their season, but it also meant she got to beat her older sister Maddie’s alma mater.
“That was the goal today,” she joked.
The victory also felt like an honor to the seniors of the Class of 2020 that never got a chance to see what an experienced Spalding team could accomplish.
“It means so much. It was hard to graduate those seniors and not get to see them play their whole season,” McDaniel said. “We’ve been really working every single day, making sure we’re not getting shut down and trying to replace and be what we would have been last year.”
Neither team could truly say they had control of this game until the final few minutes. Severn matched Spalding each step of the way, knotting the score time and time again until McDaniel tied it then scored the go-ahead goal before teammate Bella Saviano potted an insurance goal with 27 seconds left.
But Severn girls lacrosse knows it can go toe-to-toe with the big dogs. It did it when it beat Maryvale Prep and battled Bryn Mawr in a close game.
Ryan Dineen had three goals and Zoee Stencil had two to lead the Admirals.
“The future is bright for this program. I’m here to stay. I’m really excited about our youth. I’m really excited about the direction we’re going,” Severn coach Kathy Rudkin said. “We’re building a culture here, a culture that has fallen off a little bit but is building this year and it’s going to be incredible. People are going to continue to hear about Severn for years.”
The two teams started the second half tied at 5, and that’s when Spalding’s turnovers and lost draws — Severn won four straight late in the first half — started to take a toll. Severn’s Aislinn Murray scooped up a ground ball from Spalding and turned it into a goal for a 6-5 lead.
Those are mistakes Shea knows Spalding needs to fix in facing their next opponent.
“This game is so driven by the draw. Win more draws and minimize the turnovers, I think the game can go any way,” Shea said.
All the while, McDaniel said her teammates just kept encouraging one another “to get the next ball.”
“When you drop the ball, or something happens, make sure you’re the person riding the hardest to get that 50-50 ball,” she said.
But just as in the first half, neither team allowed the other any space to breathe. When Severn padded its lead, Spalding had an answer. Hillock starred for Severn around the 8:30 mark as she fended off a free position shot from Grant, preventing a would-be go-ahead goal for Spalding.
That respite didn’t last. Spalding’s seniors, Shea said, are the type to grit their teeth when the game comes down to the wire. McDaniel shattered the long scoreless drought just as she’d tied the score at 7. She crouched low on an awarded penalty and when the whistle blew, pounced and netted the go-ahead goal.
“We knew this was our game to win,” McDaniel said. “In the end, we took our time, talked to each other, encouraged each other and got back out there and made sure we were working as a team. I think that helped change the game.”
Severn graduates 12 seniors this year but Rudkin expects her Admirals to return strong and ready to build next spring.
“Lost our composure on a couple plays, just like they did, but I’m just incredibly proud,” Rudkin said, “of the way my team played today. I love this group. We played hard today and that’s all I asked for today, was to play a game they should be proud of. They should be proud of that game today.”
Latest High School sports
GOALS: AS — Delaney McDaniel (3), Bella Saviano (2), Allyson Keith (2), Lily Grant (1), Bella Schweitzer (1); S — Ryan Dineen (3), Zoee Stencil (2), Bella Lynch (1), Aislinn Murray (1)