Spalding 0, Good Counsel 0

Both parties involved in the game between No. 6 Spalding and No. 8 Good Counsel understood the stakes before stepping on the field last night. It was more about pride than playoff position. They were two solid teams from different conferences just looking for a good game.

So the sense of urgency with which both sides played during a 0-0 tie in Wheaton was a bit surprising. There was physical play, three yellow cards in all, and two defenses unwilling to yield much wriggle room in a game dotted with shades of a playoff atmosphere.

"What you had was two teams out there with a lot of pride," Spalding Coach Bob Dieterle said. "You could tell by the level of intensity and the speed of play. You can forget what happened earlier in the season. This is the time when teams are trying to get ready for the playoffs."

The matchup was originally slated for Sept. 17, when the teams played less than 15 minutes before it was called because of lightning. As luck would have it, Good Counsel -- which plays in the WCAC -- and Spalding, an IAAM A team, both had an open night before the start of the playoffs.

It's safe to say they both got what they wanted out of it, as nothing came easy. Scoring opportunities were sparse on both ends, largely because of aggressive midfield play. Good Counsel fired eight shots on goal to Spalding's four.

"I got bored out there," Good Counsel keeper Amanda Carta said jokingly.

The Falcons (13-3-2) fell short against some of their top-tier competition this season, including losses to No. 1 O'Connell, No. 4 Urbana and No. 2 Wootton. So to hold a team like Spalding scoreless with the playoffs looming was no doubt an encouraging sign for Good Counsel.

"I don't think anyone's ever satisfied with a tie, but we're happy with the way we played," said Falcons forward Vicky Anagnostopoulos.

Spalding (12-3-3) played without sweeper Nicole Brown, who was injured. Her replacement, sophomore Julie Gates, wound up having a hand in one of the game's biggest plays when she swooped in front of the net to block a shot that snuck past Carta early in the first half.

"It was definitely a little nerve-wracking knowing I had to replace a player like Nicole," Gates said. "She's kind of like a brick wall out there. Not much gets by her."

The Cavaliers are enjoying the best season in the history of the program. A tie between McDonough and Notre Dame Prep last night would put Spalding in a second-place tie in the conference, its best finish. Their next hurdle: 13 wins, which would mark a program best.

"We have no choice," Dieterle said. "We have to get that 13th win if we want to have any success in the playoffs."

Spalding's Karen Blocker makes a big stop in the second half. Goalie for the No. 6 squad stopped eight Good Counsel shots; Spalding took four shots.