Over the summer, Mercy soccer coach Doug Pryor went on Facebook looking for suggestions on what song to play when his Magic players open the season on their new field.
Getting the nod was U2’s “Beautiful Day.”
The soccer team, along with the other outdoor athletic programs at Mercy, are banking on plenty of beautiful days at the state-of-the-art $4.3 million Sisters of Mercy Athletic Complex.
Sisters of Mercy Field, a 120-by-70-yard artificial turf playing surface, will serve the soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams and feature lights, a video scoreboard, a press box and bleachers for 2,000-plus attendees. It was the final phase of the complex, with the Mary Anne Heckwolf ’66 softball field first to arrive in the spring.
On Friday afternoon, the Mercy soccer team will host Maryvale in what is being called the “Bell Game,” featuring a 2:30 p.m. start time, the same as the school day’s final bell so all the students can be part of the grand opening.
Girls soccer continues at 7 p.m. Friday when St. Paul’s and Dulaney kick off the two-day IAAM Challenge, a showcase with the top IAAM schools going against some of the area’s top public schools. Saturday’s six-game slate starts at 9 a.m. and goes through 7 p.m., with the feature game set for 3 p.m. when IAAM champion and No. 1 McDonogh, also ranked No. 1 nationally, takes on Class 4A champion and No. 9 Perry Hall. In all, eight teams in The Baltimore Sun’s Top 15 preseason poll will be on Mercy’s new field this weekend.
“It’s a cool way to see some of the best teams play at the beginning of the season,” Pryor said. “There’s going to be some of the best players in the country playing and some great games this weekend. Obviously, having the No. 1 team in the country here [is exciting] and having No. 3 Archbishop Spalding play No. 2 [and Class 2A state champ] River Hill play. … There’s some great games.”
The plan for the event is to have the four defending state public school champions play the top four IAAM teams each year.
Along with the Bell Game and IAAM Challenge, Pryor is hoping the field’s inaugural season will start new traditions. At the front of the complex, a plaza area includes a statue of Mary, Mother of Mercy, and the plan is for each Mercy player to touch it before walking onto the field. After each home win, the players will climb the grass hill next to the stands to ring a bell three times in celebration.
“We’re trying to do things like some colleges, just something that each class can pass on,” Pryor said. “Like I told the kids, everything we do this year is the first and they’ll be a part of those firsts. Hopefully, when they come back in 10, 15 years, it’s traditions that they started that every kid is still doing and they’re proud to touch the statue and ring the ball if they’re successful.”
Mercy athletic director Nick Gill said that the facility surpassed what he envisioned when the school broke ground on the project last winter. He credited school president Mary Beth Lennon, key board members and generous donors.
“In my opinion, it’s the nicest all-girl stadium in the state, complete with lights, state-of-the-art videoboard. It’s really going to be a special place to play or come watch a game,” he said. “It’s real big to not just sports, but the school community in general, and I think it’s really good for women’s athletics as a whole.”
(at Mercy’s Sisters of Mercy Field)
Dulaney vs. St. Paul’s, 7 p.m.
Roland Park vs. C. Milton Wright, 9 a.m.
John Carroll vs. Dulaney, 11 a.m.
No. 3 Spalding vs. No. 2 River Hill, 1 p.m.
No. 1 McDonogh vs. No. 9 Perry Hall, 3 p.m.
No. 12 Notre Dame Prep vs. No. 8 Sparrows Point, 5 p.m.
No. 14 Mercy vs. No. 5 Hereford, 7 p.m.
No. 1 McDonogh 3, St. Paul’s 1: Mason Christian, Ethan Glaser and Vince Petrera scored as the Eagles opened play in the MIAA A Conference with a victory. Richie Nichols, Kyle Brown and Joel Brown had assists for McDonogh and Connor Smith made five saves.
John Carroll 6, Maryvale 1: Katie Hormes, Macy Vail, KG Filiaggi, Sydney Queen, Megan Palm and Ella Steck scored for the Patriots, while Kennedy Koehler had the lone goal for Maryvale.
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AACS 6, Mount Carmel 0: Emily Powers led the attack with two goals and two assists to give the Eagles their first IAAM B Conference win. Zoe Lemke added one goal and one assist. Tracy Grollman, Lilly Hyre, and Milan Marshall each scored a goal.
Maryvale 3, St. Paul’s 0: Emma Radebaugh scored twice and Lizzie de Guzman added a goal for the Lions. Jaden Soriano and Courtney Richard added assists and Lizzie Francioli made nine saves for Maryvale. Rachel Katzenberg had six saves for St. Paul’s.
Glenelg Country 5, Catholic 0: Samantha Wollman, Dylan Sterry, Maddy Sesay, Kayla Rich and Sophia Bandiere all scored for the Dragons.
No. 13 St. Paul’s, Maryvale 0: The Gators (2-0) defeated the visiting Lions, 25-11, 25-19, 25-1, with strong serving and an overpowering offense. Setter Abby Snyder had 25 assists, 10 digs and 4 kills. Outside hitters Jalen Dickerson and Shelby Lucas anchored the Gators’ offense with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
Calvert Hall 3, St. Paul’s 0: The Cardinals swept to a 25-9, 25-19, 25-21 victory.