Another tight game ends with Eagles win
McDonogh tops defending champion Spalding, 3-1
The two regular-season field hockey games between Archbishop Spalding and McDonogh went to overtime, each team winning once, but Nadia Hyatt and Allie Weiner did not want to wait that long this time around.
Hyatt made14 saves while Weiner scored twice, once in each half, on penalty strokes, as No. 5 McDonogh eliminated No. 2 Spalding, the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion, 3-1, in a semifinal in Severn on Wednesday.
McDonogh (15-5) will take on No. 6 Notre Dame Prep, a 2-1 double-overtime winner over Garrison Forest, at Stevenson on Friday night at 7. The Eagles won the 2014 title between Spalding’s 2013 and 2015 crowns.
“I felt like this was the championship game because we are so used to seeing Spalding in that environment,” McDonogh coach Denise Wolf said. “The strokes got us ahead. I hate having them in the game, but they worked to our advantage.”
The Cavaliers gained the momentum right away, controlling the ball in McDonogh’s end most of the first nine minutes.
“We dominated the opening minutes, and it could have been 2-0 early on, but it did not happen that way,” Spalding coach Leslee Brady said. “Sometimes the ball just does not bounce your way.”
It bounced the Eagles’ way as a breakout led to McDonogh’s first scoring opportunity. Spalding goalie Megan Nemecek, who had six saves, came out and tried to stop a shot that went wide, hitting a McDonogh player. Although Brady disagreed with the call, the Eagles were awarded the penalty strokeand Weiner converted it.
“Those first few minutes, when they came down fast, we were frazzled,” Weiner said. “As a team, we looked around and knew we could come back, so we started pushing up and being more aggressive. We are a unit, and that is what gave us some opportunities.”
The Cavaliers had several more opportunities in the first half, including four corners, but could not score. Some shots went wide. Some were stopped by Hyatt, who Wolf said had an “amazing game.”
“We spent so much time on our defensive corners in practice because we knew Spalding would give us trouble in that area,” Hyatt said. “We came out and played how we practiced.”
Margot Lawn got Spalding even early in the second half, getting her stick around on a pass from Jenna Garden in midair just more than five minutes in. The goal was Lawn’s team-leading 29th, on Garden’s team-leading 14th assist.
“Margot has been great for us all year and that was just another great goal by her,” Brady said.
Less than three minutes later, the Eagles got a second penalty stroke, which Weiner again converted.
“It was a huge momentum boost for us to get the first goal of a game that has gone to overtime the last few times we have played,” Hyatt said. “To do it again, and get that second goal, really just cemented everything we knew we were capable of doing.”
Hyatt made the lead stick, making stop after stop, including a big one with 17 minutes left on Spalding’s Hannah Bouchard in the left corner.
“Nadia was on fire today,” Wolf said. “She was very vocal back there directing the defense, and we have been working at keeping the ball off our feet to prevent them from getting as many corners as they normally have.”
Emma Schettig gave the Eagles a cushion by converting a cross from Andie Aldave with 12 minutes to play. As the game ended, the Eagles came together quickly and congratulated one another, then began to focus on the task at hand.
“We need to get ready for practice tomorrow and the game Friday night,” Weiner said.
The Cavaliers won the A Conference regular-season title, but Brady noted how close the conference has been this year.
“The top four teams that you saw in the semifinals, those are the right four teams,” Brady said. “We have beaten each other up all season. I am sad for our seniors, but we had a great year.”