Before yesterday's nonleague girls soccer game in Annapolis, Good Counsel Coach Jim Bruno fretted about his team's habit of starting flat on the road. He need not have worried.
Senior midfielder Debbie Leach scored on a penalty kick that she created in the sixth minute, then assisted on sophomore forward Danielle Malagari's goal four minutes later as No. 8 Good Counsel (13-3-1) defeated St. Mary's-Annapolis, 2-0.
The win extended the Falcons' unbeaten streak to 11 games since starting the season 3-3. St. Mary's dropped to 8-3-2.
"We were very organized and right on cue," Bruno said. "Sometimes it's hard to explain, but today we were ready to play and very focused."
Leach opened the scoring after taking a shove in the back from Saints defender Athena Gramates on the right side of the penalty box. Her penalty kick just squirted by goalkeeper Lauren Bonnani.
In the 10th minute, Leach headed Meggie Curran's corner kick to Malagari, situated alone six yards in front of the goal. Malagari then knocked her team-leading 17th goal of the season between Bonnani's legs.
"We knew we needed to come out strong and aggressive," Leach said. "Sometimes we come out soft. This time we were determined to get the win."
For the next 70 minutes, Good Counsel's back three of senior Megan Nechanicky, junior Meaghan Cassagnol and sophomore Jessica Golibart neutralized St. Mary's leading scorer Kerie Sample (12 goals) and prevented any serious threat. St. Mary's registered just three shots in the second half, and the few times the Saints got inside the penalty area, goalie Kelly Paolucci (six saves) was up to the task.
"We were keying on trying to recover as a team," Nechanicky said. "We were dropping back as a team and that helps us so much more. We knew their whole team was good, so we played every player like they were an [Olympic Development Program] national team player."
Good Counsel plays a zone defense, which has been nearly impenetrable this season. The Falcons have allowed 10 goals and scored 55.
"Organization is the big key in a zone," Bruno said. "We move very well together. Today we made them send long balls across the field. By the time the balls got there, we were able to simply slide over."