SEVERN - John Carroll sophomore Amity Torbit was an unlikely hero in Wednesday's 2-1 girls soccer victory over the Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers here.
Instead of Torbit, who brought her season total to four goals with a pair in the game, many spectators thought either All-League, All-County and All-Metro player Julia Malinowski (20 goals last season), or Carrie Stallings (17) would dominate the game for the defending Catholic League Tournament champion Patriots.
Yet with 18 minutes gone in the second half, it was the diminutive Torbit who scored her second goal of the game.
She ran under a cross from the midfield, battling Spalding defender Jen Davis in an elbow-to-elbow footrace to the ball.
As the pair reached the ball simultaneously about 10 yards out and even with the near post, Torbit shoved Davis aside and kicked her volley to the right of keeper Nikki Dunlevy who had committed to her left.
Spalding's side thought the goal should have been disallowed because the ball appeared to have touched Torbit's hand before she knocked it in.
Torbit saw it differently.
"We were shoulder-to-shoulder and she was pushing me all the way down," said Torbit, who scored her first goal off an assist from Katie Nietubicz 12 minutes into the game to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead. "The ball touched both of our hands -- that's probably why the referee didn't call 'hand ball.' I didn't expect to score two goals today."
Then again, not much went as expected in the game, which was played in shifting wind currents.
The game appeared on paper to be a mismatch.
Last year, John Carroll (5-1-1, 5-0-1) won its third tournament title after finishing as the league runner-up to St. Mary's.
The Patriots had beaten Catholic, 1-0, and St. Mary's, 3-1 -- two teams which defeated the Cavaliers (3-6, 2-5). The Patriots tied Mercy High, 1-1, while the Cavaliers were coming off of Monday's 8-0 loss to Mercy.
This year's Cavaliers start just two seniors, goalie Nikki Dunlevy and midfielder Kalene Cummings (two goals). The rest of the starting line-up consists of four sophomores, three juniors and two freshmen.
Freshman Rachel Synowski (three goals) leads in scoring.
John Carroll led in every category statistically, with an advantage in shots (15-8) and corner kicks (9-2), but Dunlevy recored 14 saves to stop some precision shooting by the Patriots and the Cavaliers defense made the game much closer than even Sanchez or John Carroll coach Joe Rehrmann thought it would be.
Spalding's junior defenders Amy Councilman, Marie Jamison and Jen Davis effectively shut down John Carroll's scoring leaders Malinowski (five goals) and Stallings (four).
John Carroll did not stick to its traditional ball-control game plan and was lulled into playing the Cavaliers' kick-and-run style.
"I wasn't pleased with the way our team played today," said Malinowski, who is also a candidate for the under-19 women's national team. "We're a passing team and we didn't use the width of the field like we should have today."
Spalding's Carrie Lysett tied the game, 1-1, late in the first half.
The sophomore midfielder lined up for a corner kick only to loft a wind-aided, downward curling shot. The ball skirted the outstretched hands of backpedaling Patriot keeper Karen Olsen before settling into the far side of the net.
"I was aiming for the crowd in front of the goal," said Lysett of her goal. "But I got lucky."
The Patriots played host to Mercy Friday and Elizabeth Seton at Baltimore's Loyola College yesterday. Next, John Carroll visits St. Mary's this coming Friday.
St. Mary's (7-1, 5-1), the defending regular season champion, is led by the county's scoring leader Mo McDonough (12 goals, four assists), midfielder Randall Goldsborough and defender Liz McGonagle, each an All-County player.
St. Mary's beat Mercy (9-2-5, 3-2-2) Wednesday, 3-2.
"We might have been looking past Spalding to the Mercy game," said Rehrmann. "But every game this season is going to be a tough one for us."