John Carroll's Haley Kyger (right) sprints past Notre… (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore…)
Notre Dame Prep goalie Mary-Sean Wilcox spent extra time in practice this week making sure she could better spot the ball as the opposing attack set its offense.
In Friday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland showdown against No. 5 John Carroll, Wilcox was fully focused, making several acrobatic saves from point-blank range in the No. 4 Blazers' 13-5 victory in Towson.
NDP and its experienced defense — with returning starters Elise Liberto, Danielle Lukish and Meghan Bennett — held John Carroll scoreless in the second half, and sophomore Molly Cobb led the offense with four goals and an assist.
"Everyone picked it up this game and played well," said Wilcox, who has signed with Florida. "Having the defense back has just been fantastic. We were just in a groove right from the start. I was seeing the ball a lot better than in the previous games. My defense really helped pushing them out. We were ready today."
Hannah Jablonski, Elizabeth Haus and Hannah Hartman also scored two goals each for NDP (6-0 , 4-0 IAAM). Wilcox finished with 13 saves.
Erica Bodt, an All-Metro first-team selection last season, led John Carroll (1-3, 1-3) with three goals, two of which came on free positions. The Blazers made sure she had little room to work for much of the game. With three minutes left in the first half and play stopped, Bodt ran to the sideline to confer with coach Krystin Porcella and was followed by a NDP defender who stood about a foot away from the conversation.
Three consecutive goals by Cobb in a span of three minutes gave the Blazers a 9-5 lead at the half. Cobb, a first-year varsity player, said NDP coach Mary Bartel has been a big influence in providing more confidence to attack the goal.
"Possession is key," Cobb said. "We have some really good feeders. Our plays are awesome. Our defense is really good, and we have great communication."
The teams traded goals for much of the first half. John Carroll's Haley Kyger tied it at four with 13 minutes remaining, but NDP answered with five consecutive goals and was never threatened the rest of the way. Porcella said the biggest difference in the game was NDP's experience.
"The first half was back-and-forth," she said. "Their experience really took over in the second half. We're pretty young, and hopefully we can get it together and be more stronger for 50 minutes as opposed to just the first 25."
Bartel was happy with her team's defensive effort and said the extra work in practice paid off. With their defense as the most experienced unit, she said the young players have provided a spark on offense so far this season.
"We knew John Carroll was gong to be tough," Bartel said. "The defense did what they were supposed to do, and [Wilcox] did what she was supposed to do. We knew we had a lot of young talent last year."
Goals: J—Bodt 3, Kyger, Haggerty; N—Cobb 4, Jablonski, 2, Haus 2, Hartman 2, Tarr, Lukish, Doyle.
Assists: N—Kasun 2, Hartman, Cobb, Packo, Federico. Saves: J—DiPeso 10; N—Wilcox 13.
Half: N 9-5.