The prolific offense that had scored 12 goals in three games met a vulnerable defense that had been restructured this season.
And somehow, the result was a stalemate.
St. Mary's, winner of its first three games, repeatedly was turned aside by John Carroll goalie Amanda Sappington yesterday in a Catholic League girls soccer game that ended in a 0-0 tie at Weems Whalen Field in Annapolis.
Sappington, a senior who played on the varsity last year, stopped 10 shots in what was the league-opener for both teams.
"It's the happiest day of my life," she said.
The Saints didn't share in her joy.
St. Mary's senior striker Mo McDonough entered the game with five goals and three assists on the season, and she expected to add to those totals yesterday.
"At first, I kind of thought [Sappington] was tall and weak," McDonough said, "but she came through and I give her credit. She's a good player."
McDonough, the career leader in goals at St. Mary's with 60, was marked closely by the Patriots' Elaina Morris throughout the game.
"The key was someone else had to come through, and up to this point, the scoring has been spread out. But nobody came through today," said St. Mary's assistant coach Tom Ehart, who was filling in for head coach Jerry Tobin.
McDonough said, "At first I was getting frustrated because [Morris] mostly was hitting my ankles. Sometimes she got ball, but mostly she got ankle. But I thought someone was going to step up and take some of the pressure off me."
The Saints had six corner kicks -- all in the second half -- but never converted. This almost proved disastrous in the last minute, when John Carroll's Amity Torbit sprinted free on a breakaway with St. Mary's Stacy Pfarr trailing. But her shot sailed well over the net.
The Patriots (2-0-1) controlled the ball over the final seven minutes, but sophomore goalie Erin Hon (eight saves) was at her best near the end.
With just more than five minutes left, John Carroll's Kristy Metz drilled a shot to the left side that a lunging Hon deflected with one hand. Moments earlier, Hon had caught a header from Katie Nietubicz and gathered another Metz shot from close range.
"Erin Hon kept us in it, and [sweeper] Tricia Monmaney really did a good job," Ehart said.
Both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities in the first half.
McDonough got rolling early with a shot Sappington turned into her first save.
The Patriots were denied on their ensuing trip downfield when Pfarr redirected the ball in front of an open net.
Back came St. Mary's, which again was turned back when Sappington pounced on a McDonough crossing pass.
Hon had to make a diving save of a shot from the Patriots' Torbit, and on the other end, St. Mary's Kristin Buckley had one shot cradled by Sappington, and another that hit the top crossbar.
And so it went.
"Of the teams we've played, this is by far the best team," said Ehart, who has watched the Saints defeat Eleanor Roosevelt, 4-0, Wilde Lake, 5-1, and Mount Hebron, 3-2.
The Saints especially wanted a victory over John Carroll, the four-time Catholic League champion that has played the role of spoiler against St. Mary's in the past.
"John Carroll's like a thorn in our side," said St. Mary's senior Melissa Holmes.