by Nelson Coffin
Having beaten VSN’s second-ranked team, Garrison Forest School, 3-2, late last week, No. 1 and defending champion Notre Dame Prep took down another strong contender for its Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown by edging Archbishop Spalding, 2-1, at Yeardley Love Field in Towson on Tuesday afternoon.
The difference in one-goal victories, however, put a big smile on the face of NDP coach Katrina Ross, whose Blazers improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in league play this season while claiming their 25th consecutive triumph.
Ross said that things have not been clicking quite as well for her team in the early going of the 2018 campaign until the win over the Cavaliers (5-2, 1-1 conference).
“We’ve been working hard to get back to where we were last season,” Ross said. “We had put in a different system — more of an attacking style — that just left too many gaps in the middle of the field. We brought Rachel (Borzymowski) back to play defense, and it’s made a big difference.”
Of course Borzymowski, a senior headed to play the sport at Boston University next fall, also is a big factor on the offensive end as she proved against Spalding by scoring both goals — albeit 43 minutes apart — off of penalty corners.
On both sequences, Borzymowski started the play with a pass and then moved to the inside in order to redirect a pass from her teammates past Spalding sophomore goalie Sophie Somerville, who finished with seven saves in the setback.
“Our corners are going really, really well,” Borzymowski said.
Her knack for getting to the right place makes every NDP corner a dangerous proposition for the opposition.
“Rachel is great at doing the insert and then going to the post to get a tip,” Ross said.
The first time she made the maneuver, Borzymowski converted a crisp pass from senior forward JJ Kraft in the third minute to put the Blazers on top, 1-0.
With 14 minutes remaining in regulation, she did the same on a feed from senior midfielder Nathalie Friedman, VSN’s 2017 Player of the Year, to double the advantage.
With 10 minutes left, Spalding coach Leslee Brady called a timeout and implored her team to put more shots on the NDP goal, manned by sophomore Brooke Borzymowski, Rachel’s younger sister, who made three key saves for the Blazers.
From that point forward, the Cavs went into full attack mode and scored just over three minutes later on a backhander by senior midfielder Margot Lawn, who rifled in a pinpoint pass from sophomore Lily Grant to halve the deficit.
Considering that Spalding junior defenders Shelby Miller and Caitlin Koehler were still making enough plays to give the ball back to the offense, there was still enough time for the Cavs to draw even.
Meanwhile, NDP’s defense, spearheaded by senior Nicole Sann, junior Jenna Klaers and sophomore Pyper Friedman, had to play man-down defense for two minutes while Spalding probed for the equalizer and nearly got it on freshman Katie Fichtner’s backhander that sizzled wide.
The Cavs then earned an untimed corner in the waning seconds that was broken up by an alert Sann to end the game.
The younger Borzymowski said that she trusts her older sister, Sann and senior defender Alyssa Ritchie to keep rival offenses in check.
Yet she said that she had no chance to stop Lawn’s rocket that blasted the back of the cage.
“I had no idea where it was going,” she admitted.
Klaers, a transfer from Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, said that she played for a good team in the Bluegrass State.
“But the competition is better here,” the defnsive-minded midfielder said, adding that the the plan on Tuesday was to force the Cavs’ offense to the right side of the defense, which is a strength for the Blazers.
Both teams still have tough road games ahead, on Thursday, with the Blazers traveling to Bel Air to take on John Carroll School and Spalding heading to a showdown with No. 2 Garrison Forest in Owings Mills.
NO. 1 NOTRE DAME PREP 2, NO. 4 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 1
Spalding 0 1 — 1
Notre Dame Prep 1 1 — 2
Goals: Spalding – Margot Lawn; Notre Dame Prep – Rachel Borzymowski 2
Assists: Spalding – Lily Grant; Notre Dame Prep – JJ Kraft, Nathalie Friedman
Saves: Spalding – Sophie Somerville 7; Notre Dame Prep – Brooke Borzymowski 3
Penalty corners: Spalding – 5; Notre Dame Prep – 9