The fifth-ranked Spalding girls’ soccer team began Monday’s Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Division tournament final at Stevenson University with two strikers. Trailing McDonogh by a goal with about 15 minutes left in regulation, the Cavaliers added another to the mix, and soon after, Coach Bob Dieterle directed senior Victoria Connor from her fullback spot up to the offensive zone.
The desperate move ultimately paid off in Spalding’s first tournament title in three years. Senior Kelly Patterson scored in the 78th minute to tie it at 2, and the Cavaliers beat the Eagles in a shootout, 4-2. Junior goalkeeper Cassidy Babin stopped two shots and Patterson hammered home the final penalty kick to help the Severn private school snap a four-game losing streak against their rival.
“I figured, ‘We didn’t come here to lose close,’ ” Dieterle said by phone Tuesday morning. “ ‘We’re either going out a winner or give up more goals trying.’ ”
Spalding (15-3-3) seized the lead early in the second half on a free kick strike by senior Gracyn Bryant (East Carolina), but McDonogh answered back with two quick goals, forcing Dieterle to get creative.
The Cavaliers still appeared headed for their third straight tournament final loss until freshman Julia Heck sent a cross into the box and Patterson got a foot on it, directing a shot just over the goal line for the equalizer.
In the two 10-minute overtime periods, Spalding had plenty of chances but had to settle for a shootout to decide the championship. Babin, a Massachusetts commit with 11 shutouts this season, set the tone by stopping McDonogh’s first attempt.
The goalie guessed the wrong way, but as she lunged right, she managed to get a foot on the shot and keep it out. She also guessed correctly and caught the third shot of the session.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were perfect in the shootout with junior Sarah Martin, Connor, Bryant and Patterson connecting on their kicks.
“It was nerve-wracking, don’t get me wrong, but we were very confident because we had worked and worked on [penalty kicks] with Cassidy in the goal.” Dieterle said, “I told them, ‘Don’t worry about the crowd. There’s no pressure.’ It’s just like we were back at practice.”
The thrilling championship victory capped the coach’s 11-year career at Spalding. Dieterle built the program into a region power, winning 173 games and four IAAM-A titles. The 2006 All-Met Coach of the Year found out before the season that his contract would not be renewed.
Dieterle, 59, said he tried not to make his exit a major theme of the team’s season but the timing of the announcement made it difficult.
“We talked about it — It was kind of unavoidable,” Dieterle said. “With the seniors especially, we had a bond on that issue. It was their last season, and it was my last season.”
He recently built a house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and he said he may move there full-time with his wife, Patti. Last spring, he helped out with the girls’ team at nearby Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, Del.