After seeing several quality chances turned aside, the Notre Dame Prep girls soccer team had its best chance to score Wednesday night against Broadneck when it earned a penalty kick in overtime.
Bruins junior goalie Kyleigh Bland stopped that shot, too.
In a sensational 11-save performance, Bland kept the Blazers off the board to preserve a scoreless tie in double overtime.
Despite the frustration on both sides, the 100 minutes of quality soccer served an important purpose. The No. 6 Blazers, now 3-0-1, will open Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference play next week. The No. 3 Bruins (3-0-3), meanwhile, remain unbeaten against top IAAM A Conference teams — including a 3-0 win over No. 5 Mercy and 0-0 tie against No. 2 Archbishop Spalding — as they prepare for a Class 4A state title run.
“It’s great to have some easy games and feel good in those confidence games, but this is where we learn to get better and fix the things we’re not great at,” Notre Dame Prep first-year coach Cynthia Walsh said. “Broadneck has proven themselves to be one of the top teams and we knew this was going to be a battle and we knew we had to grind it out and it was exactly that going into double overtime. We’re going to be better prepared for those battles because I think it’s going to be the same way when we play our opponents in the IAAM. Every game may be exactly like this.”
Playing a crisp possession game with extended stretches of offensive pressure, the Blazers weren’t able to finish off any chances in the 80 minutes of regulation. When a Broadneck defender was called for a handball violation in the penalty area with 6:05 left in the first overtime, the Blazers had an ideal opportunity to go home with a victory.
Blazers senior midfielder Natalie O’Brocki aimed a firm shot for the top right side that didn’t quite make it there with Bland standing her ground to make the save.
Minutes later, O’Brocki — who controlled the midfield throughout the game — had a nifty turn and shot from 12 yards that Bland also turned away. After playing 100 minutes the night before in a 2-2 tie against Anne Arundel County foe Crofton, the Bruins boldly held up against the Blazers’ continued surges. Backs Lilly Kelley, Ellie McGilvray, Brooke Velez and Lily Trout provided strong support in front of Bland.
“It’s all about the team, really,” Bland said. “Right now, we’re just trying to get our shape and organized back there, so I have to take the leadership as the goalie to get it done. But I know if my teammates make a mistake, I want them to know I’m going to be there. And then I know if I make a mistake, they’re going to be there every time.”
The Blazers came out strong, stringing together four passes in a sequence that ended with Greyson Tischer’s shot that went just wide nine minutes into play. In the second half, Greta Sommer took a short feed from O’Brocki and hit a heavy shot from 20 yards that Bland was able to keep out. The Bruins had fewer time with the ball but had some chances thwarted as Blazers goalie Lydia Itzoe made three saves.
O’Brocki was frustrated but also proud of her team’s strong performance.
“I think it was two really great teams fighting for that one goal and it could have been either, but I think we had them,” she said. “We had so many shots and it was just unlucky they didn’t fall. But I’m proud of the team, I think we’re going to be really good this year and I like the showing we had.”
Despite his team playing Crofton on Tuesday and going back to league play Thursday against Meade, Broadneck coach John Camm couldn’t resist fitting Notre Dame Prep on the Bruins’ schedule. Broadneck left the field tired, but better off for it.
“We just feel like it makes us better. Win, lose or draw, we know it’s going to prepare us for November and that’s the point of playing a team that talented,” he said. “Spalding and Mercy just as good, just as impressive, so to come out 1-0-2 against those three teams is very impressive.”
Notre Dame Prep returns to nonconference play Tuesday against IAAM B Conference champion Severn at 7 p.m. On Wednesday, the Blazers open their A Conference slate at home against Archbishop Spalding at 5:30.
Saves: NDP -- Itzoe 4; B -- Bland 11