Clutch goals and big saves have led the Archbishop Carroll field hockey team to a 5-0 start in the Catholic League and a 9-1 overall record through Monday.
The Patriots have won their last four games, all by shutouts. The players and coach Christina Elisio point to effective communication and dedication to the cause as big reasons.
"Our school isn't big, so many of us are friends off the field, which makes it so much easier to communicate on the field," said Keri Daly, a senior midfielder and defenseman and a 2017 first-team all-Catholic League selection. "We all know where everyone is all the time."
So far, a 5-1 loss to Notre Dame Academy last month is the only blemish on the Patriots' record. Since that loss, Carroll has scored 20 goals and allowed none. Perhaps the biggest win of that stretch was a 1-0 overtime victory over Catholic League rival Cardinal O'Hara.
Behind the gaudy statistics — the Patriots have not allowed a goal in league play and just 10 overall — Carroll's defense has been anchored by junior center back Carly Bateman, a 2017 second-team all-Catholic League pick, and senior goalkeeper MaryKate Kearney. After making 20 saves and allowing one goal in a 3-1 win over the Hill School last month, Kearney and the defense have racked up consecutive shutouts of league foes Bonner-Prendergast, O'Hara, and Little Flower.
Kearney made nine saves in the overtime win over O'Hara.
On Monday, Katie LaBella had three goals in a 7-0 victory over Harry S Truman. The senior forward got off to a sizzling start this season, with 13 goals and three assists in the first eight games. She also scored the winning goal against O'Hara.
Alex Almonte, a senior forward, had seven goals through eight games, and Maeve Riehman, a senior midfielder, had three goals and seven assists. Carleigh Connors, a sophomore midfielder, has also been part of the potent mix.
"They're always happy, upbeat, willing to work hard, and the overall team vibe is great," Elisio said. "Everyone gets along."
To solidify team unity Elisio makes its mandatory that all varsity and junior varsity players take the team bus to and from every game. The idea is that a sense of togetherness off the field keeps the team connected on it. The players also have shown the willingness to stay after practice to get in extra work.
"It is incredible how much time they are willing to give to be great," Elisio said. "With this has come our great field awareness and great field versatility."
It doesn't hurt that the team is also out to avenge last year's disappointing finish. Bonner-Prendergast beat the Patriots, 3-2, in overtime in the league title game.
"And as a senior now, I've never won a championship," Daly said.
Could this be the year? The Patriots seem to think so.