by Derek Toney
During the second half of McDonogh School's victory over Archbishop Spalding in the IAAM A Conference soccer final Saturday evening, a longtime area soccer reporter said the 2018 McDonogh squad is the best of its championship squads. The statement was a little stunning considering the past McDonogh title squads had elite players like Ashley Spivey, Kia Rankin and Bridgette Andrzejewski.
But what the Eagles did to their longtime rival was stunning. A couple of weeks after a tightly contested match that ended up in a tie, McDonogh was dominant in its penultimate match of the season, winning 5-0 at Anne Arundel Community College.
"You always talk about ending on a high note and playing your best soccer...I'm very proud of the players," said Eagles coach Harry Canellakis. "They were fantastic tonight, almost unplayable at certain times during the game."
"We've been really looking good in the playoffs against Mercy and Glenelg Country and working hard all season in practice," said Julia Dorsey. "We knew tonight was not about skill but about heart. It takes heart in the playoffs especially in the championship."
McDonogh (15-0-2 overall) found its inner Golden State Warriors Saturday, combining determination, depth and immense skill, to win its seventh IAAM A title in nine seasons. Sophomore midfielder Bailey DeSmith recorded a second half hat trick, and Aria Bilal and Lilly McCarthy each tallied.
The Cavaliers and Eagles played a 2-2 draw Oct. 18 at McDonogh. After a slow start, the Eagles overcame a 2-0 deficit over the final 30 minutes of regulation.
After 100 minutes of action and dusk settling over McDonogh's bermuda field, the teams exchanged handshakes and hugs. There was a strong feeling another chapter of the area's best soccer rivalry would be written under the AACC's lights Saturday.
The Eagles were ready.
"He [Canellakis] wants us to erase the memory of the previous game and all our records and come at this clean and strong," said Bilal.
Bilal, a sophomore reserve forward, set the tone. Seconds after entering the game, she got a pass from Dorsey, dribbled a couple of steps and ripped a laser into the left corner in the 16th minute.
"She [Bilal] gives us pace," said Canellakis.
Controlling play at midfield, McDonogh went to work over the final 40 minutes. DeSmit got a pass from McCarthy and put a shot past Spalding standout netminder Jillian Savageau in the 48th minute.
Off quick and precise ball movement, DeSmit finished a McCarthy feed in the 54th minute. McCarthy made it 4-0 (Bilal assist) before DeSmit completed her hat trick in the 68th minute.
"It was mainly our energy and goal to win this game from the start," said DeSmit. "Once we got the first goal, we got the momentum. We knew we had to score more than one goal."
The Cavaliers (14-1-2), the only other than McDonogh to own an IAAM A championship since 2007, were near flawless entering Saturday, with ties against McDonogh and Good Counsel.
They had no answers for McDonogh's perfect performance Saturday.
"Hands down, all of their players – every single player – was on. And when you have that, it’s like a force." said Spalding coach Ashly Kennedy, who commended seniors Abby Hanks, Abby Jeanneault, Jenna Snead, Fifi Iluyomade and Savageau. "At the same time, with us, I think certain things didn’t go our way and sometimes that effects the momentum of a game and it shifts the score. I think my team competed, but unfortunately we didn’t get the back end of it."
Neither team show signs of slowing down, especially McDonogh which have 18 letter winners, including Saturday starters Olivia Ozbolt, Kalli Wethern, Cecily Pokigo, Kemper Robinson, McCarthy, Alayna Lynchard, DeSmit and Kelsey Smith, set to return in 2019.
"Every year is different. I'm not even thinking about the future right now," said Canellakis. "I'm very happy with tonight and very proud of the players."
"We have such team camaraderie. We play for each other and I wouldn’t want to be with any other girls," said Dorsey, a North Carolina soccer and lacrosse recruit who will play her final game along with senior mate Dani Peay, Ryann Yospa and Abby VanMetre. "It feels so good to finish champions and unbeaten in my senior year.”
IAAM A Conference soccer championship
at Anne Arundel CC
McDonogh School 5, Archbishop Spalding 0
Goals: McDonogh - DeSmit 3, Bilal, McCarthy
Assists: McDonogh - McCarthy 2, Dorsey, Bilal
Saves: Spalding - Savageau 5; McDonogh - VanMetre 2
Spalding 0 0 - 0
McDonogh 1 4 - 5