A flash of lightning came as close as any mortal entity to wounding Spalding field hockey this year.
The Cavaliers finish the season as the area’s top-ranked team with an undefeated record and their second Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Division title in three years. Spalding was spoiled with talent, boasting three starters committed to NCAA teams ranked in the Top 10 and a freshman phenom poised to follow in those footsteps.
In addition to the offensive fireworks attributed to senior captain Erin Shanahan, a Virginia pledge who scored 35 goals with 16 assists, Maryland recruits Logan Edmondson and Kyler Greenwalt (nine goals, 14 assists) and newcomer Margot Lawn, — who scored two goals on McDonogh in the league championship game — Spalding (18-0-1) had a back line of new defensive starters that helped junior goalie Megan Nemecek generate 10 shutouts.
With all of that firepower, the Cavaliers were unstoppable on every day except Sept. 9, when a thunderstorm robbed Spalding of a chance to break a 1-1 tie with South River, ending the second half early and reminding the team of Coach Leslee Brady’s theme for the season.
A year after losing to McDonogh in the IAAM-A tournament final, the coach told her players they had to approach every day with a finishing mindset.
“It’s kind of just within the word finish,” said Greenwalt, a junior forward. “We played until the last second.”
When Spalding trailed Garrison Forest by two goals with 14 minutes left in regulation on Sept. 30, the girls huddled and talked about how their effort up to that point wasn’t good enough. No one panicked.
“We all knew,” Greenwalt said. “We could just feel it, that we were going to win.”
To Brady, that game was as emblematic of the season as any of the eight contests Spalding won by at least a four-goal margin. Junior Tess Constantine scored one of her two goals on the season to tie the game. Sophomore Payton Kenney scored the first goal of her career to end overtime.
“It wasn’t one of the studs. It was a little sophomore doing her job, her moment to shine. She scored the winning goal that kept us undefeated and really kicked our season into high gear,” Brady said. “The entire team bought into everybody coming to practice and coming to the games every single day and doing their job, doing the best they could possibly do when called upon.”
Spalding was so dominant that Brady said the Cavaliers would still be undefeated — albeit with three ties — if you wiped away Shanahan’s 35 goals.
While the team had championship talent, Brady stressed it was team chemistry that kept them unbeaten. This was a loose team that enjoyed its workdays.
When Greenwalt looks back, she’ll remember the championships, but more than that, she’ll remember how every member of the team always stopped to say hello in the hallways at school She’ll remember how Shanahan would spontaneously break out in dance or the day senior defender Tori McCarl had the team in stitches when she named her ball bag Trixie and dragged it around the field like a new puppy.
“People would just be bent over laughing,” Greenwalt said. “It was just things like that, like spur of the moment.”
Sophomore Mackenzie Karl scored 16 goals for a Virginia 6A North region champion Westfield team that won 19 games in a row before falling to eventual state champ First Colonial in the semifinals. . . . Eva Klaus scored a goal and tallied an assist to help Severna Park beat Wootton for the Falcons’ third straight Maryland 4A championship and record 23rd title…. Olivia Gilliam’s winner delivered St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes its 13th ISL tournament title in the past 15 years. . . . Seniors Rachel Maizel and Marisa Morakis led Maryland 4A finalist Wootton to its second title game apperance in three years. . . . T.C. Williams racked up 17 shutouts before finishing second in the Virginia 6A North region and advancing to the state tournament. . . . Marriotts Ridge made history with its first region championship and first appearance in the state final, where the Mustangs lost to repeat champion Hereford. . . . Glenelg won the South River tournament to start the season and delivered Coach Ginger Kincaid her 400th win in her 39th and final year. . . . South River advanced to a region final against Severna Park and was the only team to tie Spalding. . . . St. John’s stunned Good Counsel to win the WCAC championship game.
1. Spalding (18-0-1) Last ranked: 1
2. Westfield (20-3) LR: 2
3. Severna Park (11-6-1) LR: NR
4. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (18-3-1) LR: 5
5. Wootton (16-3) LR: 4
6. T.C. Williams (21-3) LR: 8
7. Marriotts Ridge (16-2) LR: NR
8. Glenelg (13-2) LR: 3
9. South River (10-5-2) LR: 6
10. St. John’s (14-2) LR: NR