McDonogh junior forward Baylee DeSmit had already enjoyed plenty of big moments in Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship games against rival Archbishop Spalding.
On Saturday night, with the offensive chances limited and the game scoreless just past the midway point of the second half, her time came again. She was more than ready.
Collecting a pass from Lilly McCarthy on the right side, DeSmit dribbled twice before setting up her right foot from 14 yards, promptly finding the lower far post for the game’s first breakthrough with 19:31 to play. She added an insurance goals with 7:22 to play as the McDonogh claimed a 3-1 win over Spalding at CCBC-Essex.
McDonogh closed its season with a 16-1 mark, while Spalding finished 13-2-1.
DeSmit has been in the middle of all of the Eagles’ recent success against Spalding. She scored three goals in last year’s 5-0 title game, scored the lone goal in the Eagles’ 1-0 regular-season win last week that gave the Eagles first place and then again on Saturday.
“It’s always a battle between us and Spalding," said DeSmit, who scored 20 goals this season. "And I think — not that we wanted it more because I think both teams wanted it — but I think our energy in the second half enabled us to break through. Our connections got better and just everything got better and I’m just happy I could help us succeed. I just love soccer, love scoring and showing my passion in a way to help others on my team.”
In winning a third straight league title, sixth in seven years and eighth overall, McDonogh had to take an unfamiliar path.
On Sept. 26, the Eagles came into their league game against upstart Mercy as the country’s No. 1-ranked team with a 6-0 mark, but were shocked by the Magic, 1-0, for their first home loss since 2013.
“I think that setback in the Mercy game really made us bounce back and become even stronger team as a team and to play better and play harder for each other," DeSmit said. "And we didn’t want to let anything get in the way for our senior class go with a down point to our season.”
It wasn’t until Oct. 24, the regular season’s final day, when they went to Spalding and grinded out a 1-0 win that they returned to their familiar spot atop the league standings.
On Saturday, the defending champions started strong, earning three early corner kicks but were unable to break through.
“They’re a very good team and it was a very even game until we got the first goal and that totally changed the complexion," McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis said. “Baylee wins big moments. Her work rate is unbelievable, she presses and I think there’s only two or three games she didn’t scored in and she was huge again tonight.”
After the opening 10 minutes, the Cavaliers settled in and the final 30 minutes of the first half were played on even terms with a scoreless game at the halftime break. It stayed that way well into the second half until DeSmit finally found time and space just past the midway point.
After losing 14 seniors from last year’s team, the Cavaliers were able to maintain their high level of play with a largely new cast quickly coming together. Saturday’s performance was a clear indicator. Following DeSmit’s first goal, the Cavaliers were forced to chase the game in a bid to get level, sending more players forward to leave their defense more exposed.
The Eagles were quick to take advantage, but the Cavaliers showed no quit with Sophia Thibeault’s goal in the closing minutes proof.
“This group of players…,” Spalding coach Ashly Kennedy said. “It’s my seventh year of coaching and I’ve never seen a team that built the chemistry that this team had this year and I’m so proud of them.”
Goals: M – DeSmit 2, McCarthy; Thibeault. Assists: M – McCarthy, Wethern, Smith. Saves: S – Murray 6; M – Lowney 3. Half: 0-0
Maryvale 3, Mount de Sales 2 (PKs): Maryvale Prep provided Mount de Sales with its most significant test during the Sailors’ 15-game winning streak, and that was apparent when the teams met again in Saturday’s B Conference championship game.
The Lions were able to stay on even terms through regulation and overtime, and when the title came down to penalty kicks, they were slightly better.
Goalie Emma Lynch opened with two strong saves and Emily Knapp and Kennedy Koehler scored goals to lift the Lions to the program’s fourth title and first since 2007. The teams played to a 2-2 tie through 100 minutes before the Lions prevailed in the penalty-kick session.
Maryvale Prep, which lost a 2-1 double overtime decision to Mount de Sales in the final game of the regular season, finished with a 10-9 mark, and while Mount de Sales finished 15-2 – its previous loss coming in its season opener against Marriotts Ridge.
With the Sailors taking a 1-0 lead at the half on a goal from Grace Gower midway through the first, the game opened up with an offensive splurge early in the second half.
Koehler tied the score game 10 minutes into the half and less than three minutes later, freshman Noel Cumberland gave the Lions their first lead with a shot from 30 yards that dropped into the right corner.