Defense stars for Eagles, Blazers
Back lines excel in rematch of past two IAAM A Conference title games
The majority of the postgame compliments were directed to the defenses in Tuesday’s girls soccer showdown between No. 3 McDonogh and No. 4 Notre Dame Prep. Rightly so. While there was some quality buildup coming from both ends in a game that was well played and fairly even, the back lines on both sides firmly held their respective ground in a 0-0 tie in a rematch of the past two Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship games.
With the draw, the three-time defending league champion Eagles (1-1-2) go to 1-1-1 in the IAAM. The visiting Blazers (5-1-2) go to 2-0-2 in league play. They also played to a scoreless tie against No. 1 Archbishop Spalding onThursday.
“It was a tough match,” Notre Dame Prep coach Val Teixeira said. “McDonogh is always a great team and they always have a lot of kids that work extremely hard. They’re very athletic, they can jump and they can run, so it was a good test for us. … McDonogh’s Maddie Ebner (2) is surrounded by Notre Dame Prep players Gil Eby (22) and Keegan Barger. “It was a tough match,” Blazers coach Val Teixeira said.
They dominated the first 25, 30 minutes and then once we got our composure and I felt we were comfortable with the ball, and I think both team had a couple chances, so the tie was a fair result.”
The Eagles were regularly first to the ball in the game’s first 20 minutes but were unable to break through. Their best opportunity came in the seventh minute when Abby VanMeter quickly turned to hit a left-footed shot from14 yards that was easily handled by Blazers senior goalkeeper Ashley Gabor, who made five saves.
After the Blazers settled in, both teams possessed the ball but generated little, with tight marking dominating the final third of the fields. In the final minute of the first 10-minute overtime, Notre Dame Prep’s Ellie Curry had a ball settle on her foot at the 18-yard mark, but her hurried shot in traffic was sprayed high.
The Eagles, who lost the majority of their scoring punch to graduation in All-Metro standouts Bridgette Andrzejewski and Kia Rankin, are still finding their way in the offensive end.
“We know against NDP and Spalding it’s going to be how the ball bounces, and we have to be a little more precise in the final third to break them down,” McDonogh coach Harry Canellakis said.
“We think we can be as good as some of our previous teams with the group of players we have. But it’s different and we’re hoping some of the young kids in key positions mature as the season goes on. There’s nothing wrong with their level of competition or being battle tested. We looked sharp, but we just need to be sharper in the final third.”
For McDonogh, junior Maddie Jenner led the defense, with collectively tidy play also coming from Lily Stavisky, Emily Amero and Caitlin Hoffman. Senior goalie Margaret Donovan made three saves.
Teixeira said his defense played well in front of Gabor, and he made sure to mention all the contributors: Luisa Mangione, Brooke Barger, Morayo Adenegan, Mackenzie Christenson, Erica Carpenter and Ananda Jagadesan.
With the A Conference down to five teams, they all will play each other twice in a home-and-away regular season.
“I think playing each other twice is good. It gives every team an opportunity to study each other and play home and away,” Teixeira said. “The league is going to be competitive.”
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