For the second time this season, in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to St. Mary's, the Cavaliers' girls soccer team got a taste of the Saints' miniature scoring dynamo, Mo McDonough, and were shut out again.
The aggressive McDonough turned in her usual performance: She scored twice, peppered Spalding goalkeeper Nikki Dunlevy with nine shots and created three one-on-one situations.
The Saints (8-2 overall, 6-2 in the Baltimore Catholic League) had beaten Spalding, 4-0, earlier in the season. McDonough also tallied twice in that game.
"I had a really bad game last Friday when we lost (to Mercy 1-0). I thought I owed it to the team," said McDonough, a sophomore, whose 14 goals and four assists rank her as the county's second-leading scorer behind Meade's Amanda Simmons (19).
With four games and the Nov. 1-4 Catholic League tournament remaining, McDonough has scored as many times and with only one fewer assist than last season when she was also St. Mary's top scorer.
A 5-foot-4, 125-pounder, McDonough is not a huge target for opposing teams. Nor is she someone you might immediately recognize as a threat. Yet with her finesse, quick, darting movements and her low center of gravity, McDonough is always a danger to make things happen.
"She marks well and can play any position. She understands what's supposed to happen all over the field," said fourth-year St. Mary's coach Jerry Tobin, who also has coached McDonough on his Severna Park Green Hornets under-19 club team.
McDonough, who maintains a B average, scored all three of the Green Hornets' goals in last weekend's Washington Area Girls Soccer League tournament as the team finished 1-1-1.
"There are some nice players in this county," said Tobin. "But I'd take Mo over any of them. Gimme a dozen more like Mo."
Born and raised in Pasadena, McDonough began playing the game as a 5-year-old in the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer League for St. Jane Francis in Riviera Beach.
She made most of her progress, however, in physical pick-up games against her older brother, Jim Jr., and the boys in their neighborhood.
"The guys got as rough with her as we did with everyone else. We'd play full out and she'd get back up and take it. She'd even score," said Jim McDonough, 19, a former wrestler and lacrosse player at Chesapeake High, now attending Anne Arundel Community College.
Five years ago, a friend of Jim's built a soccer goal in McDonough's back yard. There, she practiced her shooting precision against her brother -- much like the one-on-one game of basketball.
"With my brother, I got knocked around a lot," said McDonough, who also plays lacrosse and basketball at St. Mary's. "But now it helps me because I play year round with older players."
McDonough's diminutive frame often is screened from the keeper's view, making her shot delivery even more hard to spot when she pierces a collapsing defense and emerges from the pack.
That's how she scored her first goal Wednesday just five minutes into the game against Spalding off of a pass from junior teammate Randall Goldsborough.
Streaking in from the right side, McDonough two-touched the ball into the left corner past a sprawling Dunlevy.
For the rest of the half McDonough was in perpetual motion, always driving hard to the goal. Several times she raced to the corners and launched dangerous crosses, pumping her short legs like pistons as she ran through the middle.
On one occasion she beat the defense by shielding the ball well and -- with surprising tenacity -- showed an ability not to get knocked off the ball easily by bigger players.
Yet even under those conditions, she displayed excellent dribbling skills, using her feet to control the ball as jugglers do objects with their hands.
Her efforts produced her second goal with two minutes left in the first half.
This time teammate Krissy Zurfluh brought the ball through the middle and touched it to McDonough in the right corner behind the Cavaliers' defense.
Mo did the rest.
Standing about 10 yards from the goal mouth, McDonough used a right-footed touch to push the ball about three yards in front of her. When Dunlevy dove to grab the ball at her feet, McDonough chipped the ball around her and booted a left-footed shot into an unguarded goal.
"That was great patience the way she moved around the goalie and walked it in," said Tobin. "Each time she scored she made the goalie commit."
McDonough was a force in the second half, even when she dropped into the midfield and put her maturity and improved skills to work.
Her penetration drew more attention. She became more of a playmaker.
She was more of a vocal leader and a calming force, serving as a field coach and feeding the ball to her teammates.
"Since last year, she's matured 100 percent and she's only going to get better," said Goldsborough, who has four goals and six assists. "She keeps everyone psyched during games by talking a lot. And she's always looking to dish off to someone."
Still, she's aggressive and can control the game. Once, she turned her position into a defensive post, stripping the ball from an attacker and redirecting it into setting up the offense.
She even had a hand, or rather a foot, in the Saints' third goal. Her initial shot was deflected by the keeper and teammate Terri Green put it away for a 3-0 lead.
McDonough's skills will get a big test again today when the Saints play host to first-place John Carroll (6-1-2, 6-0-1) in a 3:45 p.m. game at Weems Whalen field in Annapolis.
In a game played in a downpour earlier this season, the Patriots defeated St. Mary's, 3-1. McDonough missed one of two penalty kick opportunities in that game and was held scoreless.
John Carroll beat St. Mary's, 2-1, for the league tournament title a year ago after St. Mary's won the regular-season title.