Region 4-AAA third-seeded Spalding (13-4) won its sixth in a row to advance to the Sweet 16 where it will travel to take on No. 1-state ranked St. Pius X (16-1-1) tentatively on Wednesday at a time yet to be determined as the season came to an end for Region 3-AAA second-seeded Harlem (14-4) which lost its second in a row.
“Both teams really battled in the first part of the match,” longtime Spalding Lady Jags head coach Wayne Gardner said of a math his team led in 4-0 at the half. “Eventually, we broke them down with time of possession, shots, and goals.”
Fisher scored on very strong blast past the keeper from 18 yards out to break a scoreless tie with 20:09 left to play in the first half. O’Brien then scored on a centering pass from Lianne Harris with 15:37 left before Reece McIver made it 3-0 on a pass from Madison Stewart with 12:45 left in the half.
By the time O’Brien scored off another assist from Stewart with :35 left in the half, the Lady Jags had the match well in command.
Alex Reaves scored on right-footed volley from the right side from 18 yards out to make it 5-0 with 33:54 left in the match. Morgan McKneely scored on 25 yard shot off a drop to her from Taylor Hendricks at the 19:47 mark before Fisher scored on blast past their keeper from 25 yards out with 14:45 left to play and Katherine Blackmon scored with 12:19 remaining following a corner kick.
Anne Marie Martinez scored with 8:33 left on a chip shot over the keeper who had come off her line to put the finishing touches on the victory.
Spalding dominated in every phase of the game: Spalding had 29 shots, with 11 on goal and 7 corner kicks. Harlem had only 2 shots on goal and 1 cornerkick.
“Harlem had good speed especially with their forwards and their outside midfielders,” said Gardner. “But the Spalding backs —Morgan Evans, Laural Cobb, Natalia Jones, Alexus Holton, Cydney Swain — did an excellent job of closing down attacks by Harlem. And our keeper, Madison Stansell, did a great job of coming out to gather passes and crosses by the Harlem attackers to shut them out.”