After her team squeezed in just a handful of games last fall because of the pandemic, Spalding field hockey coach Leslee Brady came into this season intent on giving her team plenty of extra preparation.
So Brady peppered the Cavaliers’ preseason schedule with heavy hitters, booking scrimmages with Howard County powers Marriotts Ridge and River Hill, and perennial Baltimore County standout Hereford.
In Thursday’s season-opener, that extra preparation paid off handsomely, as host No. 2 Spalding got a pair of goals from senior Becca Lawn and a goal and an assist from senior Bridget Donovan in a 5-1 win over No. 6 Arundel.
The Cavaliers (1-0) outshot the Wildcats 33-11, scoring four straight goals over the final 48:25 to turn a tight game into a rout. Brady said the tough preseason made all the difference.
“We actually took a look at the rankings from two years ago, and made sure that Marriotts Ridge, River Hill and Hereford … they were all ranked and we said, ‘Well, we’ll see if they’ll scrimmage us,’” said Brady, whose team won all three scrimmages. “I think that did a really good for us, especially the last scrimmage we had [against Hereford]. This is a great confidence booster for us. Arundel’s a great team.”
Lawn, a Miami of Ohio signee ranked as one of the top 100 seniors in the nation according to MAX Field Hockey, said that going head-to-head with fast-paced opponents helped the Cavaliers play with intensity from the outset.
“They were all very fast, very physically fit teams with good stick skills,” Lawn said. “That was really good to help us, because they were fast-paced games, which is exactly what today was.”
The defense was a huge key, as well. After Arundel (0-1) looked effective on the attack early, Spalding began to do a better job denying senior Lana Hamilton, a first-team All-Metro midfielder in 2019 who has signed with Syracuse. The Wildcats, who got their lone goal from junior Aly Dinmore off a first-quarter feed from Hamilton, had far fewer scoring chances in the second half.
“We did a better job of denying her the ball and shutting her down so she couldn’t start the offense,” Brady said.
The score might’ve been even more lopsided If not for the standout play in goal by senior Savannah Brooks, who officially finished with 26 saves, including several in quick succession on a handful of occasions.
“I just think they’re a better team. There’s no better way to slice that,” Arundel coach Carrie Vosburg said. “They stepped to the ball and had solid passing. That’s probably the biggest thing — we got beat to every single ball.”
The Wildcats are in the process of reloading after graduating seven seniors who played major roles in an undefeated, though abbreviated, season last spring. And, on this day, Spalding was simply too much to handle.
“We have a quick-scoring offense if we can get down there,” said Brady, who picked up career win No. 296. “We have a lot of young talent and a core group of seniors that just controls the center of the field. We looked good today.”
Goals: Ar — Sinmore; AS — B. Lawn 2, Keith, Donovan, J. Lawn
Assists: Ar — Hamilton; AS- Fichtner 2, Donovan
Saves: Ar — Brooks 26; AS — DeFrees 6
Half: Spalding, 2-1