Brad Rivera said his Archbishop Spalding boys soccer team was ready for every possible scenario -- including a shootout -- going into yesterday's Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference playoff game.
Unfortunately for Rivera, so was the opposition.
After a scoreless regulation and two five-minute overtimes, McDonogh outpointed the visiting Cavaliers, 3-1, in the shootout to emerge victorious, 1-0.
The Eagles (14-2-2 overall) were the second seeds in Division I, while Spalding (8-6-2) was seeded third in Division II.
"We're pretty tournament smart," said McDonogh coach Bill Seal.
"We've been practicing shootouts for about two weeks and I think our goalkeeping, with Sean Corcoran in there, was absolutely unbelievable. We probably shoot a hundred balls a day at him during practice. It paid off for him today."
Corcoran, a senior in his first year at keeper, made seven saves during regulation. The Cavaliers were held without a shot on goal during the two five-minute overtimes, so Corcoran wasn't tested again until the shootout.
The Eagles' Zach Shamoo went first, and easily beat Spalding keeper Chris Badaczewski with a bullet into the upper right-hand corner of the net.
After the Cavaliers' Mickey Wist missed wide to the right, McDonogh's Tim Schauerman fired a shot that Badaczewski slowed, but could not stop.
Corcoran then dove to his left to deflect Javi Rivera's attempt, and McDonogh's Jordan Steller lofted a shot over Badaczewski's head and into the net.
Spalding finally converted when Kenny Smith's shot eluded Corcoran. But after the Eagles' Dom Apollon was unsuccessful, the Cavaliers' fourth shooter, Tom Riley, struck the top post.
Spalding isn't the first county team to be eliminated by McDonogh via the shootout. St. Mary's fell in similar fashion during the MSA B Conference tournament in 1988.
"I think it ages you 10 years every time you go through it," Seal said.
Rivera was far from disconsolate afterward. His team made a strong showing in its first year in the MSA A Conference, going 6-4-2 in the conference during the regular season and qualifying for the playoffs.
"It's a good showing by the school," he said. "I think that we're here to stay. I'm very proud of those kids. We fell today, but with dignity."
The two teams played evenly through one half, with neither able to convert bona fide scoring opportunities.
Spalding came close late in the first half, when Pat Mohr raced toward the goal on a breakaway along the right side. He unleashed the ball from a short distance and directly at Corcoran, who put both hands up and made the save.
Rivera said, "At the beginning, with the goalie closing, Pat should have kicked earlier. He allowed the goalie to cover the angle and when he shot, the goalie was right there. That was a missed opportunity."
Spalding nearly broke the tie soon after, but a Bill Barth header off a well-placed Mohr pass was snared by Corcoran.
"We just didn't capitalize on our shots," Barth said. "We just kept trying to push and push and it just wouldn't go. And their goalie is excellent."
Corcoran had a much easier time in the second half, especially during the first 12 minutes, when Spalding was busy warding off a continuous string of McDonogh rushes.
"We were just slowing down a little bit. We were tired from the first half," Barth said.
Barth, a senior, would take the Cavaliers' two best shots after intermission. One hit the right post, and the other settled in Corcoran's arms.