The Catholic girls soccer team has come a long way this season and Saturday’s championship game performance against Annapolis Area Christian School showed exactly how far.
The Cubs exploded for three goals in a four-minute stretch in the second half to claim a 3-0 win over the Eagles for their first Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship.
The team’s two senior starters provided the goals with midfielder Baylee Lindsay providing the game winner and fellow midfielder Sara Morales tacking on two insurance goals.
So just how far did the Cubs come this season? The same Eagles beat them 5-0 on Sept. 19 – the team’s second game of the season.
“I think it was just our mindset,” said Lindsay, who scored from 30 yards with 24 minutes left to break the ice. “We were able to grow close as a team and we really got focused. It’s incredible. To come out and have a young team, an excited team it was an incredible experience and I’m so grateful for it.”
Much like settling into the season, it took the Cubs (10-3-1) a while to get used to playing on the big Anne Arundel Community College field on Saturday.
And while the game was mostly played on even terms with few scoring chances in the first half, things changed in an instant when Lindsay settled a ball that was deflected by an Eagle and let go of a shot from 30 yards that broke the scoreless tie.
Morales also proved to have good aim from far away, scoring two goals less than two minutes apart – both from 25-plus yards – to make it 3-0 with 20:10 left.
Some of the Eagles’ best scoring chances came right before the Cubs broke the game open. Sophomore Lilly Hyre sent a couple dangerous passes to teammates Zoe Lemke and Tracy Grollman earlier n the second half, but they couldn’t break through for the all-important first goal. Catholic sophomore goalie Cristen Roche made three saves with a strong collective effort on defense in front of her.
Despite the loss, the Eagles (9-6) also made up considerable ground this season under first-year coach Amy Sproul. In reaching Saturday’s title game, they avenged losses to Mount Carmel and top-seed Concordia, which came into the semifinals unbeaten in league play. The Eagles roster consisted of 10 sophomores, three juniors, four freshmen and two seniors.
“We’ve had a big change this year. Last year was a new coach, this year I’m a new coach, so for them trying to understand how I work and how we can all play together as a team, I don’t think anybody expected us to get this far,” Sproul said. “So for them to be able to win a playoff game, then beat the No. 1 seed, those are huge things we’re focusing on.”
“And as much as we’re going to miss the seniors, to be able to return that much of our team next year for next year is huge. They know what this stage is like, they know what to expect, they know what it takes to get here so I think they’ll be ready.”