No. 11 Catholic has to settle for scoreless tie with Mercy Cubs defense produces seventh straight shutout


*TC Coming off a sub-.500 season, the Catholic Cubs were hoping to see marked improvement this year, starting with the defense.

Yesterday against Mercy, the sophomore-dominated team continued its rise to prominence, using defense to record its seventh shutout in as many games.

Facing a Magic team equal to the task, however, 11th-ranked Catholic had to settle for a scoreless tie in a Catholic League A Division game at Herring Run Park.

"Our defense is playing beyond our expectations," said Catholic co-coach Jason Dieter, whose Cubs (5-0-2 overall, 3-0-2 in the league) started a freshman, seven sophomores, two juniors and just one senior.

"They're an inexperienced group that has really taken control in back, and that's kept us in a lot of ballgames."

The starting defense of Maria Adams, La Angelini, Beth Frey, Jamie Loftus, Caron Mierczak and goalie Allison Merkle kept Mercy's front line from getting a good scoring chance all afternoon.

The Magic front line of Lacey Morley, Tina Steck, Katie Korrow and Shannon Cohen, who had entered the game with a combined 18 goals and nine assists, were held to nine shots.

It was Mercy's defense, however, that came through in the clutch, thwarting all three of Catholic's prime scoring chances.

The Cubs' Natalie Loftus came within inches of a goal about five minutes into the game, firing a rocket from 20 yards out that hit off the left post before being cleared away.

The Magic (7-4, 4-2) also thwarted two chances by Nicole Brooks. After goalie Jennifer Bailey -- who recorded her fifth straight shutout -- stopped a hard liner from the sophomore late in the first half, she pounced on another of the striker's shots that hit the crossbar and bounced in front of the goal with minutes left.

"The defense has gotten better with each game," said Mercy coach Jerry Friedline, who was more than satisfied with the tie. "I think Catholic came in here thinking they were going to clean up on us. We came in and showed that we're as good as they are."

For a Catholic team off to its best start since the Reagan administration, the end result was unfulfilling.


"We didn't play the best game we could've," said Dieter.

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