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Wethern's last-minute header lifts McDonogh girls soccer past Mercy for sixth IAAM A crown

Stationed at the back post in the closing minute Sunday, McDonogh sophomore Kalli Wethern saw that was exactly where Lilly McCarthy’s corner kick was served to.

The No. 2 Eagles had pressured Mercy’s gutsy defense for much of the game with nothing to show, but Wethern was poised and prepared when it was needed most.

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Getting a little higher than the rest of the pack, she headed home the only goal of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference girls soccer championship. She tucked it inside the post with 41 seconds left to give McDonogh a 1-0 win over Mercy and the program’s sixth league championship.

McDonogh finishes the season with a 14-2-4 mark, including its third one-goal win against Mercy.

The Magic (11-9-2) saved its best soccer for a demanding final week of the playoffs, ending a five-game losing streak in a 4-0 win over John Carroll in the quarterfinals last Monday before a monumental semifinal upset over No. 1 Archbishop Spalding on penalty kicks on Thursday.

On Sunday, it was McDonogh which was on the positive side of the game’s pivotal play at Stevenson University’s Mustang Stadium.

“I’m [going] ‘My gosh, this is so exciting. I can’t believe we scored in what the last minute.’ I was just like, ‘I need to get this in the back of the net,’ ” Wethern said.

Both teams played to their respective strengths on Sunday.

The Magic employed the same strategy as it did in Thursday’s upset against Spalding, packing it on defense and using standout forward Ada Clare Tempert as the threat up top on counters.

The Eagles, who played the playoffs without standout forward Julia Dorsey because of an injury, worked the ball well throughout the game, but were unable to find the finishing touch until Wethern stepped up.

“For me, the best thing about tonight with a young group is we didn’t score early with a lot of possession and a lot of chances, but I never really felt like we panicked,” McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis said. “We just stuck through it and got a great goal at the end.”

Before commenting on his own team’s championship-winning performance, Canellakis first made sure to give Mercy its due.

The Magic, making their second championship game and first since 2008, went 2-6 to finish fourth in the league and had been outscored 13-0 against Spalding before finding a way to win the seminal. Sophomore goalkeeper Alivia McDermott finished with seven saves and the team also had its moments with the ball behind Tempert.

Mostly relying on 12 players, Mercy was playing its third playoff game in six days on Stevenson’s long and wide field. Coach Doug Pryor wasn’t sure how much energy his side would have. It turned out they had it until the very end.

“I didn’t know how much legs they were going to have, but they battled, they scrapped and this field couldn’t be any bigger. What these kids just did for our program is crazy,” he said. “It hurts right now, but what they did in the last three days playing two of the best teams in the country pretty dead even – with an extra game, it’s just priceless. It was a great effort today and it just came down to one play.”

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