When St. Mary's-Annapolis Coach Patti Lavell was asked about her team's strong defensive performance in a 1-0 victory over Garrison Forest yesterday, she smiled.

"They're really coming on defensively," Lavell said. "They'll just do whatever it takes to keep the ball out of the goal."

The ninth-ranked Saints cleared the ball effectively, clamped down on Garrison Forest inside the circle and made Kristen Gaudreau's first-half goal stand up in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference Applebee Division game played at Rolling Knolls Elementary School in Annapolis.

St. Mary's (9-2-3, 3-0-1) now has not lost in 11 games and is 8-0-3 since dropping two of its first three contests in September. The Saints also have two straight shutouts after battling Archbishop Spalding to a scoreless tie last week. Before that, St. Mary's held the potent Severna Park offense to just one goal in a 2-1 victory.

The Saints' defense relies on effective and consistent clearing, good marking inside the circle and rarely giving opponents good shots. That strategy worked yesterday after they took an early lead.

Gaudreau's goal came on one of St. Mary's few scoring chances. Standing in front, she put a perfect cross from Morgan Thalenberg past Garrison Forest goalie Allynn Lodge with 18 minutes 35 seconds remaining in the first half.

"We just want to stop [the ball] and get it out," St. Mary's Jamie McGraw said. "Once we got the first goal, we just wanted to make sure they didn't have another opportunity."

Garrison Forest, located in Baltimore, had an early goal waved off due to a dangerous play call, but the Grizzlies kept pressing the Saints throughout the first half.

Garrison Forest had eight corners while the Saints had none. The Grizzlies also outshot St. Mary's, 6-5, but they could do little close to the cage.

"We couldn't do much inside the circle," Garrison Forest Coach Micul Ann Morse said. "They really shut us down."