The Archbishop Spalding field hockey team kept the pressure on unbeaten Notre Dame Prep throughout most of Thursday’s key Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference matchup. Time and again, however, the Cavaliers came up empty.
Junior Marisol Torreyson wasn’t deterred.
“I felt like the more we attacked the ball, the more opportunities we created,” Torreyson said.
Sticking with its game plan, No. 2 Spalding finally found its mark in the second half, breaking open a one-goal game on its way to a 4-0 win over the host No. 4 Blazers.
Torreyson finished with a goal and two assists, as Spalding finally began breaking down NDP’s stout defense and getting to standout goalie Kerigan Ross (18 saves).
“I think it was just sticking with the game plan and knowing it would work,” Cavaliers coach Leslee Brady said. “It was working, if you look statistically — time of possession, keeping it in their circle the whole time. But we came in here knowing this would be a tough game.”
The win keeps Spalding (13-2 overall, 6-0 conference) on a collision course with No. 3 Garrison Forest for first place in the conference and the top seed in the IAAM playoffs. The teams, which both remain unbeaten in league play, are scheduled to meet in the regular-season finale Oct. 25.
To remain on that course, however, the Cavaliers first had to get past an NDP team enjoying its most success since winning back-to-back conference championships in 2017 and 2018. And they did it primarily with a defense that seldom gave the Blazers even a chance to score.
Led by sophomores Stella Bumgarner, Jilly Lawn and Sophia Coleman, and junior Samantha Pratt, the defense held NDP (10-1, 5-1) to a single shot on goal, time and again punching the ball out of the circle.
“Defensively we just really focused on stepping up to the ball before they had the opportunity to take those 1-v-1s with our goalie, and really working on getting numbers back if they did get the fast break,” Lawn said. “We really were attacking early to cut down on every single chance they had.”
When Ally Keith scored on a solo effort with 1:13 to play in the third quarter and Torreyson quickly made it 3-0 off a feed from Skylar Gilman 1:31 into the fourth, the game was all but over.
“We just weren’t generating a lot of attack,” Notre Dame Prep coach Katrina Ross said. “Their defense was so good. We have to pass the ball quicker. You can’t hold the ball against a team like that.”
Still, taking a one-goal deficit late into the third quarter showed marked improvement for the Blazers, who lost a pair of games to Spalding by a combined score of 14-2 a year ago.
“We learned, No. 1, that we can hang with them,” Ross said. “They obviously had the advantage, but our defense played excellent.”
Goals: AS-Gilman, Keith, Torreyson, Pratt. Assists: AS-Torreyson 2, Gilman. Saves: AS-de Frees 1; NDP-Ross 18. Half: Spalding, 1-0.