For the Archbishop Spalding field hockey team these days, there are simply no breaks. The Cavaliers find themselves in the midst of a brutal 11-day stretch in which they face four of the top nine teams in The Baltimore Sun rankings, followed by highly touted opponents from Ohio and Massachusetts.

At times, it’s enough to make a coach question her own scheduling choices.


“There’s always a fine line,” Spalding coach Leslee Brady said. “A couple days ago I’m kicking myself, thinking I might’ve overextended us at the beginning of the season.”

On Monday, however, her No. 4 Cavaliers proved they were up for the challenge, getting goals from three players and dominating the second half in a 3-1 win over host No. 9 McDonogh in an early Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference showdown.

With the game tied at 1 late in the first half, Spalding (4-1-1 overall, 1-1 conference) took the lead on Camille Lucente’s goal, followed by Keeley McNemar’s effort midway through the second. But that didn’t tell the whole story for the Cavaliers, who controlled the ball for most of the second half, finishing with 12 penalty corners in the period and 17 for the game.

After last Wednesday’s lopsided loss to top-ranked Garrison Forest and Saturday’s tie against No. 3 Arundel, players said they wanted to turn things around.

"We said, `The last two games haven’t gone the way we wanted them to, so today we need this really bad,' " McNemar said.

Said Lucente: “We’re tougher for [the schedule]. Just starting with Garrison, it didn’t go the way we wanted, then Arundel being a tie… I think it lit a fire under us to pull through this game.”

It seemed to be anyone’s game in the first half, with the Cavaliers taking the early lead when Bridget Donovan tipped in a shot from teammate Lily Grant. McDonogh senior Ally Pitts responded by scoring off a corner to pull the Eagles even with 5:42 left in the half.

Spalding took the lead for good when Lucente wound up and struck a hard pass from Shelby Miller after defender Shelby Bumgarner had brought the ball down the sideline.

“I’m not going to lie, I just closed my eyes and just threw it in,” Lucente said.

Playing from behind, McDonogh could manage little offense after halftime, spending the bulk of the half trying to stave off Spalding's attacks.

"The energy just was not there. I don't know what it was, but we just did not show up in the second half," Eagles coach Denise Wolf said. "You can't do that against Spalding. We just need to get our head back in the game and play like we can."

When McNemar scored after a scrum in front of the cage to make it 3-1 with 15:30 left, the game seemed all but over.

"I just think we realized we could do it, we really could pull it out today," McNemar said. "I think we just had that energy coming out in the second half, and that was what we needed."

Of course, Spalding will need a lot more of that energy in the days ahead. On Wednesday, they have a date with No. 2 Notre Dame Prep, the two-time defending A Conference champion, followed by the MAX Field Hockey High School National Invitational outside of Philadelphia this weekend.


"Our goal is the [IAAM] tournament down the road, and I think this kind of schedule pays off," Brady said. "I think it paid off in a game like this, because I'm not sure that we had our best game today, but we played and won the game without that. I think that's where all this grind comes in and helps."

Goals: AS — Donovan, Lucente, McNemar; M — Pitts. Assists: AS — Grant, Miller, Fichtner. Saves: AS — DeFees 6; M — Geoghan 8. Half: Spalding, 2-1.