Defending champion St. Mary's nips Spalding in quarterfinals, 1-0

Tight defense makes Reinhart's goal hold up

IAAM soccer

October 29, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

No girls soccer team has a better handle on exactly what it takes to work through the demanding Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference playoffs than St. Mary's.

After all, the No. 10 Saints are the three-time defending league champions.

In yesterday's quarterfinal at Archbishop Spalding, they showed a resilient, bend-but-don't-break spirit that pushed them forward.

Senior midfielder Alison Reinhart scored in the 16th minute, and the Saints' defense did the rest against a persistent Cavaliers attack to come away with a 1-0 victory.

In winning their sixth straight game, the Saints improved to 12-5-1 on the season with a semifinal showdown against No. 1 Notre Dame Prep - a 4-0 winner over Mercy - set for 3 p.m. tomorrow. After Reinhart provided the needed offense, it was tight marking, a fine freelance job from senior sweeper Jennifer Dunbar and smart and aggressive play from junior goalkeeper Marie Oben (14 saves) that helped the Saints advance.

"We've played quite well on defense lately. We juggled some things around and things are gelling," said St. Mary's coach Jerry Tobin. "[Spalding] is a dangerous team and they just keep coming at you. Marie [Oben] was outstanding. It was her [penalty area] tonight, which is what we've told her."

Some hard work in the left corner from freshman Megan Fitzgerald came just before Reinhart's goal. Fitzgerald sent a long cross from the corner flag that got over Spalding keeper Kim Harter to Reinhart, who directed it in with her hip.

"Whatever it takes," Reinhart said. "I saw it coming and ran onto it and it hit my hip and went in. I just did whatever I could to put it in. We're playing real well right now - we've picked it up and are playing tenacious. I've never seen us play with so much passion."

Yesterday it was needed.

The Cavaliers, who ended their season at 14-6, kept coming and coming with a number of through balls for much of the second half. But everything they sent in was either sent back or gobbled up by Oben.

Spalding senior forward Emily Sullivan sent balls in from the left side to Colleen Regan and Kate Schaeffler, but Oben turned away the ensuing shots. Late in the half, Sullivan got temporarily behind the Saints' defense, but Dunbar was able to recover and Oben then left her line aggressively to smother the chance.

"Sometimes, it's just not your day. We had a nice season and we closed the gap. We're going to have a team coming back next year," said Spalding coach Bob Dieterle.

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