When former Maryland standout Ashly Kennedy took over the girls’ soccer team at Spalding before this season, she knew she was inheriting a well-established winning tradition. Her predecessor, Bob Dieterle, developed the Cavaliers into one of the state’s top private school teams, amassing a 173-24-21 record in eleven seasons in which Spalding won four league championships.
But despite the school’s girls’ soccer stature, Kennedy wanted to put her stamp on the Cavaliers and bring the approach she developed during her four years as a Terrapin and the four years as an assistant coach at George Mason University that followed.
“Coming from college to high school, it’s completely different, but I wanted to set the groundwork for what I saw and how we can improve, and how to build,” Kennedy said. “The biggest thing is consistency: how you train will affect your performance in games. Given the reputation we have as a soccer program, every team is out to get us and we have to live up to that expectation.”
So far, so good.
Kennedy’s emphasis on consistency has played out in Spalding’s results. The Cavaliers are 7-1-1, and tied clear-cut No.1 Good Counsel in their first game of the season. Since that game and a 1-0 loss to No. 9 Arundel that followed, they’ve outscored opponents 22-4. Reigning All-Met goalkeeper Cassidy Babin has posted four shutouts, and Sarah Martin and Maria Boretti have anchored a midfield that’s set up a deep forward corps for a team average of over three goals a game as they knocked off opponents including last year’s Maryland 4A state champion South River.
“I came from experience in college, and I was set in how I wanted to run the high school team, but I did have to tailor some things because high school is not a Division I college program, it’s a high school,” Kennedy said. “At the end of the day, I want the girls to have fun and walk away with a good experience and take away things they can use in the future.”
After their undefeated 2012 campaign, River Hill’s 6-3 record so far this year may look like evidence of a down year. But look closer: River Hill’s three losses have come to three of the best teams in the region: No. 1 Good Counsel, No. 3 O’Connell, and McDonogh, the defending IAAM champions.
The Hawks remain the lone unbeaten, untied team in their league, as yet unchallenged for Howard County supremacy. Syracuse-bound senior star Sheridan Street wasn’t available for the team’s 2-1 loss to O’Connell, in which the Hawks saw the potential game-tying penalty kick go awry late. In the team’s loss to McDonogh — which remained scoreless through 60 minutes — several players dealt with nicks, bumps and bruises that left coach Brian Song’s squad below full strength. All three losses came to private schools, with their numbers attracted from a wider talent base.
For Song, the results of those games aren’t as important as the weaknesses they exposed.
“For me, those games are to show ‘what are we lacking at this point, and what do we need to fix when playoffs start in late October,’ ” Song said. “I understand a lot of times public schools don’t want to play private schools because it’s a loss in their book. But I’d rather have us learn from that loss.”
The Hawks downed Howard County challenger Marriotts Ridge (7-1-1) 2-0 Tuesday night, and they’ve already taken care of another perennial conference contender in Reservoir (6-3). Thursday’s game with Centennial (7-1) might be the toughest in-conference test yet, though games like that are precisely the reason Song was willing to have his girls take some lumps early on.
“Some of the girls will say they’re disappointed to have those losses in the regular season, and ask why we schedule those teams,” Song said. “I say you should be honored to play those teams. You only get one out of county game or so, and we learn more from those games than when you beat some other team 4-0 or 5-0. That doesn’t accomplish anything.”
Damascus continues to turn heads in Montogomery County with its 8-0 record and 35-4 goal differential. . . . The WCAC schools had no trouble taking care of business this week, as Good Counsel (2-0), O’Connell (1-0) and Bishop Ireton (2-0) cruised through their matchups. . . . Churchill falls two spots after a 2-0 loss to upstart Sherwood (5-2) Tuesday. . . . South River reasserted its claim to Anne Arundel supremacy last week, winning its last two games by a combined score of 19-0.
1. Good Counsel (7-0-3) LW: 1
2. Spalding (7-1-1) LW: 2
3. O’Connell (5-2) LW: 3
4. St. John’s (4-1-3) LW: 4
5. Bethesda-Chevy Chase (6-1-1) LW: 5
6. Ireton (6-1-2) LW: 6
7. South River (7-2) LW: 8
8. Arundel (6-1) LW: 9
9. Churchill (5-1-1) LW: 7
10. River Hill (6-3) LW: 10
On the bubble: Damascus (8-0), Holy Cross (4-0-1), Whitman (5-0-1)