Magic tops the Cavaliers on PK’s to reach IAAM A final

Top-ranked Archbishop Spalding, which lost two of its final three regular season games (both non-conference) after going 9-0-2 in its first 11, did not make it out of the semifinal round of the IAAM A Conference playoffs, losing in a penalty kick shootout to No. 15 Mercy, 4-3, Thursday in Severna Park, after the two teams played to a 1-1 double-overtime draw.

Mercy (9-8-2) advances to Sunday’s championship game where it will faced No. 2 McDonogh, which advanced on Thursday with a 3-0 win over Notre Dame Prep.

Mercy, which rose to as high as No. 4 in the VSN Girls Soccer Top 20 earlier this season, had lost five straight and seven of its final six regular season games, before getting on track with a 4-0 win over John Carroll in the opening round of the playoffs.

Thursday’s result, however, appeared to come out of left field, as Spalding (10-2-3) had won the two regular season meetings between the teams by a combined score of 13-0. Mercy, however, put early pressure on the Cavs when Emily Crusse staked them to a 1-0 lead in the first half.

Crusse came up big all afternoon, making a huge defensive save when he cleared shot off the line by Spalding’s Fifi Iluyomade, early in the second half, and later she converted Mercy’s fifth penalty kick, which proved to be the game winner.

Iluyomade finally got the Cavaliers on the board, eight minutes into the second half, but more often then not, the Cavaliers were frustrated by the Mercy defense, in particular goalkeeper Alivia McDermott, who recorded seven saves.

The biggest of those saves came in the fourth round of the shootout, as Spalding was poised to take a 4-3 lead. That opened the door for Crusse to push the Magic in front, which she did. Spalding’s final shot soared high and Mercy stole away with the victory.

Picture above: Mercy’s Emily Crusse scored once in regulation, hit the clinching goal in the shootout and played superp defense throughout.