Carney’s goal lifts Rams to win over Cavaliers
Heading down the field with the ball at her feet, McDonough’s Peyton Carney had no illusions about what was at stake early in the second half of the Rams’ girls soccer team’s game at Calvert on Tuesday night.
Given that the Rams were locked in a scoreless duel against one of the better teams in the state and had enjoyed almost no opportunities to put a shot in the net, Carney knew she had to score.
“It was just so exciting and I knew that we have very limited chances in games like this,” Carney said of the moment. “I just knew I had to take advantage of it, just relax and find the corner.”
Carney was able to maneuver around Calvert goalkeeper Kalli Williams and then delivered a shot into the vacated net to score what was ultimately the only goal in McDonough’s 1-0 win in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference crossover matchup. The victory was perhaps the most significant in a season that has seen the Rams log a number of milestone victories.
“Not having a big bench we know we have to battle in these games, and my girls showed a tremendous amount of heart,” McDonough head coach Dave Bradshaw said. “We had the same game plan against North Point, we knocked them off for the first time. Then we had Leonardtown, knocked them off for the first time. We fell short at Huntingtown. I thought we played really well in that game. The game got away from us a little bit, but the effort was great . ... We just came out tonight, the girls believe in one another and they know they’re going
to come out here and play with a short bench and they lift each other up. It was just a great, great team effort tonight.”
Calvert (6-2 overall) dominated play through the first half, but was never able to solve the McDonough defense and goalkeeper Marisa Gibbs. Then, inside the first five minutes of the second half, Carney’s goal put the pressure on the host Cavaliers.
The hosts had several chances to knot the score in the final 20 minutes, including a shot by Alex Baker that went just wide of the goal and one by Claire Williams that sailed just over the crossbar, but they were never able to pull themselves even.
“Calvert is one of the best that we’ve probably ever played against, definitely
one of the best this season. I really feel like this was a great win for us. We really stuck through to the end,” Gibbs said. “I feel like this game has really proved that we’re switching it around. We’re coming out on top against these upper-level teams.”
Once Carney saw her shot go into the net, she was confident that her team’s defense would be able to make the lead stand.
“We have a very powerful defense,” she said. “I knew that if we could get one goal, we could do it. I was very proud of us. We worked hard to the very end. I was very proud of us. Our defense worked very hard.”
While McDonough (81) has enjoyed some success in recent years, the program does not have much history as a SMAC powerhouse. But so far in 2018 the team has only suffered one loss — to a
Huntingtown squad that finished as the Class 3A state runner-up last season — and now have a win over a Calvert program that has played in two 2A state finals in the previous four seasons and is seemingly always playing for regional championships and beyond most every year in the recent past. And the goals for the current Rams team, while more challenging now, were decidedly modest when their high school careers began.
“We have 10 seniors on this team that when they first came in, writing down on their goal sheet that maybe they’d win a conference game,” Bradshaw said. “Now it’s to the point where they want to win the conference. The growth we’ve seen in the program has been tremendous.
“The girls believe. They put in the work in the offseason, play year-round
and come out every day and work hard in practice. The whole climate has changed. They believe they can win every time they step out onto the field. They’re just a joy to coach.”
Calvert will look to bounce back when it travels to Great Mills for a scheduled 6 p.m. game tonight. McDonough, which had a home contest against Westlake on the schedule for Thursday night, has a home date with against St. Charles on tap for 6 tonight. Bradshaw was hoping to see his team continue to make strides as the regular season winds down.
“We have high expectations,” he said. “We’re hoping we can compete for the conference and hopefully get to the next level [in the playoffs] to the state championship game. But what’s great about these girls is they just take it one game at
a time. Right now we’re worried about Westlake. That’s our next game and we’re just taking them one at a time. Whatever comes will come from it. I’m very proud of the way they keep it in perspective.”
Calvert head coach John Baker was unavailable for comment.
Calvert’s Kayleigh Venis, center, tries to work between McDonough’s Kori Sheckells, left, and Peyton Carney during Tuesday night’s game at Calvert. The visiting Rams defeated Calvert on Carney’s second-half goal, 1-0.