2015 IAAM C Conference soccer champions Glenelg Country School
Halloween was a treat for Glenelg Country School and St. Mary’s, claiming IAAM soccer crowns Saturday afternoon at Archbishop Spalding’s Whittles Field.
The Saints ended St. Paul’s School’s postseason surge with a 6-1 victory in the B finals. Glenelg Country continued its reign in C, topping Chapelgate Christian Academy in the opening contest.
The top-seeded Dragons had every tight to feel a bit nervous in the as the final minutes ticked off the clock at Whittles Field. Considering what was at stake —a perfect 14-0 season, 29th consecutive victory and second straight conference crown — for the Dragons, it’s little wonder the butterflies were dancing in their stomachs.
Despite yielding a goal to senior midfielder Rachel Terry of the Yellowjackets (13-2, 8-2 conference) and two corners in the waning seconds, Glenelg Country prevailed to continue the latest dynasty in the C.
The Ellicott City school follows Mount Carmel (2013 and 2012), Chapelgate (2011 and 2010; 2005 and 2004) and Annapolis Area Christian School (2006-2009) as back-to-back champions.
“Last year’s team was mostly seniors,” Glenelg Country coach Christy Cole said. “So this year was a challenge.”
Given that the regular-season encounter between the top seeds was all Glenelg Country, 6-2, means that Chapelgate had plenty of ground to make up in the final.
According to Chapelgate coach Roch DeFrances, his team was better able to handle the Dragons’ superior speed when he inserted junior Mya Boyd and freshman Molley Donnelly on the wings.
At least, the Yellowjackets kept the score close enough to throw a scarce into the defending champs at the end.
“No score would make me less proud of the team,” said DeFrances, who had plenty of praise for senior keeper Katherine Cameron. “They gave me everything they had.”
Glenelg Country broke the ice in the 31st minute when freshman striker Morgan Young one-timed a rebound after Cameron blocked a shot by sophomore striker Alisha Netus that caromed off her and landed at Young’s feet.
Earlier in the opening half, Cameron, who finished with 11 saves, stuffed Young’s blast from close range to prevent the Dragons from jumping ahead.
The Yellowjackets were also denied on back-to-back opportunities produced by sophomore striker Jasa Curry, whose left-footed rocket headed for the near corner was stopped by Glenelg Country freshman goalie Shaylan Ahearn before Curry’s next attempt skimmed off the crossbar and out of harm’s way.
In the second half, both teams posed serious threats to score, the first of which came when Netus was denied by Cameron from about 11 yards.
However, that chance paled in comparison to Curry’s breakaway in the 51st minute that was spoiled by Ahearn alertly rushing directly out her to cut down on the shooting angle.
Even though Curry struck the ball with authority, it ricocheted off Ahearn and out of bounds.
On a subsequent counterattack, Netus was denied by Cameron again, and, just like on the previous goal, Young was where she should have been. Still, her shot trickled wide and the score remained 1-0.
The next time a rebound came off Cameron, however, freshman Addison Schmidt was there to knock it in to double the advantage with just under 16 minutes remaining in regulation.
“We got a little tired there at the end,” said senior midfielder Haley Toomer. “We had a lapse, but we stayed strong.”
Cole said she was confident, but not overly so, about her team’s chance to repeat.
“I knew we had the talent,” she said. “I just didn’t know if the younger kids would be able to bring the fire and passion the way they did.”
IAAM B Conference soccer champions St. Mary’s
It might have been too much to ask for St. Paul’s School to beat another higher seed in the B championship. After subduing Maryvale Prep and Roland Park Country School following a 6-3 victory over Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the opening round of the playoffs, the next challenge for the Gators (10-9) was a daunting one against defending champion St. Mary’s.
After all, the top-seeded Saints (15-2-1), as noted by St. Paul’s senior defender Kathryn Greskovich in a post game interview two days earlier, “haven’t lost a conference game in two years,”
Unfortunately for the sixth-seeded Gators, Greskovich’s statistic was borne out in the final when quick-starting St. Mary’s scored in bunches to roll to a 6-1 victory, completing a 13-0 league run.
The Saints used a pair of corner kicks in the first half to jump ahead when sophomore midfielder Chloe Byrne sent crisp back-to-back crosses from the corner that found, respectively, classmate Rachel Seddon and Byrne’s senior sister, Maddie, for headers that beat St. Paul’s freshman keeper Annie Schindler from close range for a 2-0 lead by the ninth minute.
Seddon was right next to Schinler by the near post when she wedged a shot into the upper corner for a 1-0 advantage in the fifth minute.
Maddie Byrne’s straight-on header was a tad more conventional and just as effective as the Saints doubled their margin four minutes later against the Gators.
The gap stood until St. Mary’s cranked up its offense again in the second half, scoring four goals in a withering 20-minute span that put the game away.
Sophomore midfielder Katie Hoffman, sophomore forward Sarah Dewitt, senior midfielder Jacqueline Bielski and Maddie Byrne all rippled the net during the scoring spree.
St. Paul’s finally retaliated in the 87th minute on a goal by sophomore Darby Welsh to avoid the shutout.
Considering that the Saints struggled to eliminate fifth-seeded Friends School in a shootout two days earlier, it appeared as if the final might be close, too.
“Friends had a long throw that gave us problems,” Maddie Byrne acknowledged. “We gave up two goals because we had a tough time adjusting to it.”
Even so, she said that by Saturday the past was forgotten and the Saints were ready to roll.
“We wanted to continue the momentum from the Friends game,” she said. “And we knew that St. Paul’s had never been here (in a championship) before, so we thought we could intimidate them. This is just such a great thing for our school to win championships. We hope it will make other girls want to come here, too.”
St. Paul’s coach Joie McLaughlin said that her team ran out of gas.
“We didn’t show up today,” she said. “We weren’t ready to play a third phenomenal game in a row.”
St. Mary’s coach Jess Baynton said that the magnitude of the score was not important.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 6-1 or 1-0, as long as we win,” she said. “We like to play with our style and our routine, and each player spurs the next one on. Our goal is to win a championship, and we did that successfully today.”