A warning to the rest of the Baltimore-area girls lacrosse teams: Archbishop Spalding is Archbishop Spalding again.
For those who might have doubted how soon the Cavaliers could be legitimate contenders in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) A Conference, coach Tara Shea has a three-word answer: eight returning starters.
Most of those will be playing Division I college lacrosse.
“We have had a lot of great teams at Spalding over the years,” said Shea, who is in her 10th season as head coach. “This team went into the season as high as they could nationally as far as Spalding teams. We were number six in the country.”
The Cavaliers are off to a respectable 6-2 start, having lost to powerhouse McDonogh School and two-time defending league champion St. Paul’s School for girls.
“We came out of those losses learning a lot about ourselves,” Shea explained. “That will definitely help us for the rest of the year.”
Spalding’s midfield of senior Allyson Keith (Cincinnati), sophomore Maeve Cavanaugh and junior Gabrielle Greene (Florida) and the defense of juniors Claire McGuire, Carolyn Ross (New Hampshire) and Madison Wrenn (Clemson) can compete evenly with any league team. Each unit returned three starters.
Cavanaugh takes most of the draws with support coming from Greene. They rank as the team’s leading scorers.
“We have a lot of depth there,” Shea said of her midfield.
The Cavaliers are also getting strong play from senior goalie Colleen Berardino (Temple), a two-year starter who is one of four netminders on the roster, and junior attacker Lily Mullen (Cornell).
Shea is particularly impressed with Berardino.
“She is the anchor of our defense and consistently making great saves for us,” the coach said.
Spalding lost in the league quarterfinals last year. That wasn't acceptable for the Cavaliers, and they are motivated to do much more in the postseason, which starts in early May.
“Last year’s team laid the groundwork to gain some national recognition for this team,” said Shea, whose team went 12-4 last year. “They put the team back on the map. We have all the tools we need.”
Severn coach Kathy Rudkin gets excited when talking about her team’s two wins – and a little about their loss to nationally-ranked and heated rival Spalding.
The two victories came on the road. The Admirals opened the season with a thrilling 12-10 victory over Holton-Arms School of Bethesda in mid-March.
Severn — which has nine seniors on the roster — staged a dramatic rally to prevail.
“We had a gritty comeback, and it really showed we have that strength and ability to do that,” Rudkin said.
In late March, Severn opened IAAM A Conference play with a 10-5 triumph over Mount de Sales of Catonsville.
The Admirals lost a 10-7 decision to the Cavaliers in Severna Park in late March. Rudkin sees the positives in the outcome.
“We only lost by three,” the coach pointed out. “They are regarded as one of the better teams in our conference. They are the best team in the county.”
Now for the bad news. Severn lost its four other games to McDonogh, Bryn Mawr, John Carroll and Roland Park to make its record 2-6.
With standout players like Isabelle Leech, Zoee Stencil, Giselle Torain, Erin Hooper, Cameron Christie and Kacey Hopkins, the Admirals are poised for a better second half.
“We have so much talent,” Rudkin said. “It’s right there to be untapped. We really want to finish really strong.”