No. 9 Spalding and Severn went at each other's defenses yesterday, but Spalding goalkeeper Marion Cassilly and her Severn counterpart, Courtney Laughlin, were equal to the task. So the game ended in a 1-1 overtime tie, an all-too familiar result in this Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Division rivalry.

"It's like a Spalding-Severn curse," Cassilly said.

Added Severn senior Keri Houser, "It's a curse."

The curse was a popular topic after the game, and coaches and players may have a point. The series has been one of the closest around in recent years: Yesterday's game at Severn was the fourth tie in the past six games; they play again Oct. 7.

"Because it's an inner-county game, we get really up for it," Spalding Coach Leslee Brady said.

"It's well played every time, whatever season it is, no matter who's ranked higher. That means nothing."

The game got off to a quick start for Severn (1-2-2) when captain and third-year varsity player Houser scored four minutes into the game.

Spalding (5-2-1) bounced back with an unassisted goal of its own by senior captain Christine Roth with 10 minutes 39 seconds left in the first half.

Much of the offensive pressure from both sides came on penalty corners. Spalding had nine, and Severn had seven. Though each team pressured consistently, the Cavaliers had some chances that could have spelled defeat for Severn.

"When the ball was coming across we just needed that last tap or that small pull around the defender," Roth said.

Severn junior attacker Erika Wilson and Houser were just two of the Admirals pressuring Cassilly, who has several Division III programs interested in her. She finished with 11 saves, booting several shots away even when they came quickly off rebounds.

"She not only made good saves sprawling," Brady said of her goalie, "but also used the stick when sprawling. You don't see that a lot."

Laughlin, meanwhile, finished with four saves for Severn.

"They're a really tough rival," Houser said of Spalding. "The last seven minutes [overtime] were really tough, but we stuck it out."