When the Spalding field hockey team won its first corner of the second half in Sunday's IAAM A conference championship game, a cheer of "Let's go, Katie" rang from the bleachers.
That fan and others supporting the Cavaliers were hoping it would be the chance for senior defender Katie Monaghan to use her powerful hit, which the artificial turf at the University of Maryland had slowed for most of the game.
That chance was cleared away by Roland Park's defense, and the Cavaliers, for the second straight season, came up a goal short in the conference final, losing 1-0.
"That was a very difficult aspect to conquer," Monaghan said of the turf. "I wish there would have been more [scoring chances]. . . . I think if there were more opportunities we could have capitalized on them."
Two notable ones were early shots sent into the goal cage but called back by the officials. The first was ruled not to have touched an offensive player's stick inside the circle, and the second was kicked inside the circle by a Spalding forward.
Outside of those, there were limited chances for the Cavaliers, who struggled to control some of Monaghan's powerful hits and couldn't get into better scoring positions against a tough Reds defense.
"I think we had a little bit of a hard time," Monaghan said. "Especially after our hits, we couldn't really get our sticks on the ball. So there were a lot more of them down there than us."
Saints Finally Get Healthy
St. Mary's field hockey coach Ann Andrews knew that if she could get her team completely healthy come playoff time, the Saints would look a lot different from the squad that went 2-12-1 during the regular season.
"We were plagued with illness all season," Andrews said. "Mononucleosis, strep throat and bronchitis. I never knew who I'd have out there."
With a complete and healthy lineup on Nov. 2, St. Mary's nearly pulled off a monumental upset in the first round of the IAAM A Conference playoffs. Playing at top-seed Bryn Mawr, which had allowed only five goals all season, the Saints scored three goals and forced overtime in the closing seconds before losing, 4-3.
"They underestimated us," said Andrews. "I don't think they intentionally underestimated us, but they thought they were going to skate through to the final round."
The teams played a scoreless first half before senior forward Abby Kupstas put the Saints up 1-0 when she one-touched a Becca Devlin pass into the goal cage. St. Mary's took a 2-1 lead later in the half when Jess Liberto scored off a penalty corner, but things looked bleak when Bryn Mawr scored two goals and took a 3-2 lead into the final minute.
In the final seconds of regulation, St. Mary's was awarded a penalty stroke. First team all-conference defender Kelly Gaudreau's shot beat the Bryn Mawr goalie to the left corner of the cage to tie the game at 3.
"At first I was extremely nervous, but then I kind of zoned out and it was like I was at practice," said Gaudreau. "That's how I made it."