Archbishop Spalding senior sweeper Kirsten Frank left the field at McDonogh on Friday more tired than usual. It turned out to be worthwhile exhaustion for the All-Metro standout.
After Frank and the Cavaliers' defense continually shut down the Eagles' persistent attack, the visitors got an offensive spark from an unlikely source.
Midfielder Francesca Springer scored with five minutes left to give No. 1 Spalding a 1-0 win over No. 2 McDonogh in a rematch of last year's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game.
"I think the key was we just communicated really well the whole game," Frank said. "Even when things got crazy and they were pushing a lot of people up, we all knew who we were marking, we all knew what our job was and basically it came down to the communication."
The hard work on defense - junior goalie Jocelyn McCoy made eight saves to record her eighth shutout - paid dividends for the Cavaliers when Springer stayed with a ball down the left side before lofting a left-footed shot from 8 yards on a tough angle for her second goal of the season.
"They gave us a really big challenge, and I tried to just get in and take a shot. It barely got there, and I thought it was out, but it went in," Springer said.
The defending champion Cavaliers (10-0 overall, 4-0 league) had the best chance to score in the first half after McDonogh senior goalie Megan Lerner was issued a yellow card to set up a free kick just outside the penalty area with 12 minutes to play before the half.
Olivia Tomoff cleanly struck the free kick that sophomore backup goalie Morgan Ruhl tipped off the crossbar. Ruhl made a second save in front off the rebound before Lerner returned to the game.
McDonogh dominated midfield and controlled play for the majority of the second half but wasn't able to finish off any scoring chances before or after Springer's goal.
"I thought overall this was the type of performance we were looking for from our team. It's just a matter of spreading them out a little better and finishing opportunities," McDonogh first-year coach Harry Canellakis said.
Goals: AS-Springer. Assists: Hoyes. Saves: AS-McCoy 8; M-Lerner 2, Ruhl 2. Half: 0-0.