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McDonogh field hockey advances to IAAM A Conference final with 3-2 win over Spalding

Top-ranked McDonogh spent much of Wednesday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference field hockey semifinal stopping penalty corners from No. 3 Archbishop Spalding.

With time winding down, however, it was the host Eagles' ability to convert on a rare corner of their own that made the difference in a 3-2 win over the defending conference champion.

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Moments after Kelsey Cummings put the ball in play, midfielder Brindi Griffin scored off a feed from defender Abby Rockefeller with 1:45 left, sending McDonogh into its second straight final.

"There was only 2 minutes left, so we turned to each other and said, `Alright guys, this is it,'" Griffin said. "Abby passed it back to me and I knew I had the shot."

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"Me and Brindi have practiced that goal a thousand times," Rockefeller said. "It's muscle memory, so we knew it was just going in."

The Eagles will play No. 2 Garrison Forest — a 2-0 winnver of Bryn Mawr in Wednesday's other semifinal — Saturday at noon at Stevenson University.

McDonogh (12-0-2) lost to Spalding in last year's final.

The Eagles had to stop three corners in the final moments of the game, including two after time expired. All told, Spalding took 12 corners to McDonogh's six.

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"We had opportunities. We had a lot of corners, but just couldn't get the ball in the cage," Cavaliers coach Leslee Brady said. "We got two, but it would've taken three."

Spalding (14-3) built a 2-1 lead just 1:38 into the second half when midfielder Erin Shanahan wound up and fired a hard shot from the top of the circle into the back of the cage. Midway through the half, McDonogh's D'Arcy Carlson tied it by putting in a rebound off goalie Megan Nemecek.

The game seemed to be headed to overtime before Griffin's late heroics.

"We've been focused on corners a lot this past week because we knew if we could get in the circle we had a great shot," McDonogh coach Halyna Fried said.

The Eagles beat Garrison Forest, 3-2, in overtime two weeks ago. The Grizzles will be after their sixth title in eight years.

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