From left: Mercy's Alexis Prior-Brown, Bryn Mawr's… (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun )
This fall, midfielder Ashley Spivey has her heart set on leading the No. 1 McDonogh girls soccer team to its second straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship.
At Mercy, forward Alexis Prior-Brown has her own plan. She wants to be the difference in helping the No. 2 Magic dethrone McDonogh and bring home her program's first title.
At the same time, Bryn Mawr midfielder Riley Barger is determined not to let anybody get in the way of the No. 13 Mawrtians winning their third straight IAAM B Conference crown.
It's clear that all three senior standouts — Spivey, the reigning All-Metro Player of the Year, and Prior-Brown and Barger, both All-Metro first-team choices last season — have different agendas.
But that's just for now.
At this time next year, the three will be sharing the field and wearing the same uniform as members of the Maryland women's soccer team.
Spivey, also a member of the U.S. women's under-17 national team, was the first to commit to Maryland in July of 2010. Barger, a teammate of Spivey's with the Baltimore Bays club team since they were 8 years old, decided she wanted to be a Terrapin last fall. And Prior-Brown gave Maryland its third top prospect from the Baltimore area in February.
The three plan to make it official on Feb. 1, the first signing date for soccer.
"Riley and I are like best friends, and she's very important to me, so we're really excited to be going to Maryland together. And Alexis is a great player," Spivey said. "She's tough to play against and has a good returning team at Mercy this year, so she'll be leading them and be doing great things. So it will be really cool when all three of us will be able to combine our skills and play with each other."
There are certainly plenty of skills to be combined between the three.
All four-year varsity players, they have totaled 170 goals and 142 assists. All three are captains of their respective teams, and bring fierce competitiveness and soccer knowledge to supplement their skill sets.
"Maryland is getting a little of everything — it's a diverse three," said Towson University women's assistant coach Albert Oni, who used to coach Prior-Brown at Mercy and also coached Spivey and Barger on Olympic Development Program teams.
"When you're putting together a team, you have to have different pieces to the puzzle. All three of them bring something unique to the plate. Alexis is an incredible athlete who is willing to try anything. Ashley Spivey can consistently control a game and wants to be the star. And Riley Barger is just a pro. She can do everything and get the job done in the most efficient and simple way possible."
The Terps, who are 8-2-3 and ranked No. 11 in the country, will be adding that to a roster that already includes a number of contributors from this area.
Junior midfielder/defender Megan Gibbons (McDonogh) has started all 13 games; sophomore forward Kristen Schmidbauer (Glenelg) transferred from UNC-Greensboro this year and has earned two starts; senior forward Annesia Faulkner (St. Vincent Pallotti) productively comes off the bench; and freshman forward Marisa Kresge (Severna Park) has a bright future.
Maryland coach Brian Pensky has seen common traits among his recruits from the Baltimore area.
"The kids we've had coming out of Baltimore are always very skillful, technical kids, and they also bring a certain bite and attitude with them," he said. "When you want to have a team at the highest level, you have to have a certain amount of speed and athleticism, and we've been fortunate enough to get kids out of Baltimore that have that. And then when you combine that with very good skill and, most importantly, that bite and that competitiveness to always want to win — you can't put a price on that as a coach."
Spivey, Barger and Prior-Brown chose Maryland for many of the same reasons. All three want to stay close to home so their families can watch them play. They all said they felt welcome on the Maryland campus and instantly comfortable with the current players and the coaches. And all three have aspirations of winning a national championship.
For Barger, who scored the game-winning goal late in last year's 2-1 B Conference championship victory over rival Roland Park, regular pestering from Spivey helped make her final decision over four other schools she strongly considered.
"We would be at [Bays] preactice after [Spivey] already committed to Maryland, and she would constantly be saying, 'Riley is going to Maryland so we can play together four more years,'" Barger said. "So when I committed, I texted her 'Four more years!' and the next practice we gave each other a huge hug."
When word spread that Prior-Brown committed to Maryland, Barger and Spivey sent congratulatory text messages, and Prior-Brown has gotten to know her two future teammates better since.
"It's great because I feel like I already have a group of friends to hang out with the first few practices and stuff," Prior-Brown said. "I'm just very excited, because I want to win a championship and I know they would love to do that too, so it's a great opportunity."
A trio of future Terps
Here's a look at the four-year high school careers of McDonogh's Ashley Spivey, Bryn Mawr's Riley Barger and Mercy's Alexis Prior-Brown.
G A Pts
Ashley Spivey 76 55 130
Riley Barger 41 60 101
Alexis Prior-Brown 53 27 80