Is this the year St. Mary's wins the title in the Baltimore CatholicLeague girls soccer tournament?
The question has plagued senior sweeper Liz McGonagle ever since her sophomore season, when the Saintslost the championship, 2-1, to Harford County's John Carroll.
Questions ran even deeper when the Saints lost last year's championship, 5-1, to John Carroll after having tied the Patriots for the regular-season title. With her team ahead, 1-0, in that game, McGonagle -- who had made 8-of-9 penalty kicks -- missed only her second try of the year and the Patriots regained momentum.
But with yesterday's 3-0 quarterfinal victory over visiting Archbishop Spalding (3-9-3), the second-seeded Saints (14-2-1) resumed their quest for the Catholic League crown.
"I'd like to go out of here finally winning the Catholic League tournament. I mean, this is it -- either we win or wedon't," said McGonagle, after anchoring the Saints' defense to its 10th shutout and third victory over the Cavaliers.
McGonagle, who has scored 10 goals with two assists, teamed with sophomore stopper Bridget Smith and juniors Tricia Monmaney (left fullback) and Stacy Pfarr (right fullback), limiting the Cavaliers to seven shots -- and just one first-half attempt.
Freshman keeper Erin Hon made three saves.
Meanwhile, junior Mo McDonough (15 goals, nine assists) and senior Randall Goldsborough (14,11) led an offense that fired 23 shots at the Cavaliers' freshman keeper Nicole Trumpler (15 saves).
McDonough scored twice yesterday -- her first tally coming off an assist from Goldsborough -- and sophomore midfielder Jillian Monmaney netted her first goal of the season.
"If we're going to win it, we're going to have to play like we did today," said McGonagle, who has 20 career goals with four assists from her defensive post. "We have some minor things to work out, I think, but other than that, I think everyone wants it really bad."
Next, the Saints face semifinal opponent McDonogh, a 2-1 winner over Catholic. The Saints beat McDonough, 1-0 and 2-0, during the season. Game time is 6:15 p.m. Monday at PattersonPark.
But the Saints' real target is top-seed and eighth-ranked Mercy (12-1-2), to whom St. Mary's lost twice, 3-2 and 2-1.
Mercy usurped the regular-season title -- something the Saints' record-setting forwards hope to avenge next week. McDonough (53 goals, 22 assists) has the school record for goals and Goldsborough (45, 29) for assists.
"Defensive marking is going to get tougher as things go on. I think everyone's up for us because of our seasons the past two years," said McDonough. "Today, they had two girls on me. There's always atleast one man on me, and I've seen a lot of man-to-man."
Spaldingwas without marking back Melissa Goeble. Goeble, whois vacationing in Hawaii, shadowed McDonough in the last meeting -- a 3-1 St. Mary's victory -- in which the Cavaliers held a brief 1-0 lead.
Defender Jen Sparks contained McDonough for the game's first 15 minutes beforeGoldsborough set her up for the game's first goal.
Standing near the Saints' sideline, Goldsborough chest-trapped a pass just beyond midfield and headed the ball past an oncoming defender toward the right end line.
Trumpler had drifted from the goal mouth to her left when Goldsborough beat a player to the corner and lifted the ball to McDonough at the far post.
McDonough's first header hit the crossbar, but she headed home the rebound before Trumpler could get there. The Cavaliers had some chances early in the second half, but Suzy Harris shanked her 15-yard volley wide right, and McGonagle broke up Marie Jamison's potential one-on-one about 20 yards from the goal.
Shortly thereafter, sophomore Molly Sullivan took a Goldsborough throw-in to the left corner and fired a cross to Jillian Monmaney, who put the ball past Trumpler from six yards out.
McDonough scored the final goal unassisted with just under seven minutes left.
"St. Mary'sis a better team than us -- even with Melissa," said Coach Wayne Sanchez, whose Cavaliers had a three-game unbeaten streak, including Monday's 1-0 victory over Mount de Sales. "Maybe we would have had a better chance with Melissa, but there's no shame in losing to a team like St. Mary's."