With each victory Mercy girls soccer team collected during the season, Sydney Feiler felt the Magic was overlooked.
“Even when we were winning in the beginning of the year, they were still saying ‘oh it’s McDonogh and Spalding’,” said Feiler, a senior forward. “No one took us seriously.”
Not anymore. No. 2 Mercy won the IAAM A Conference championship with a 1-0 victory over fourth-ranked McDonogh, 1-0, in front of nearly 2,000 at Calvert Hall.
It’s the first title for the Northwest Baltimore private school (16-1 overall) since 1991 when it claimed the Catholic League A Division championship. The Magic is the first team other than McDonogh or Archbishop Spalding since 2007 to win the area’s premier girls soccer league.
Fieler turned Mercy’s championship aspirations into reality. In the 68th minute, the Virginia Commonwealth University commit got the ball at the right edge of the penalty area and fired a left-footed shot that bent inside the far post.
She made a beeline to the fence near the stands to celebrate with Mercy fans who nearly filled their side of the stadium.
“I saw an opening and you know what let me just hit it,” said Feiler. “It went in and just wanted to cry.”
“It took a special play, Syd made a play and made it happen,” said Mercy coach Doug Pryor.
Pryor, in his 13th season, knew it would take an unique play for his squad to beat McDonogh, which has ruled the IAAM A Conference with nine championships since 2010.
“It’s a special group with the seniors, and I told them from Day 1 if you want to win a championship it’s got to be against McDonogh because they’re one of the best programs in the country. Beating them in this game is big,” said Mercy coach Doug Pryor. “It was a great game and obviously the ball bounced our way a little bit. The kids worked hard all year.”
Feiler’s solo effort came on the heels of a McDonogh near breakthrough in the second half Saturday. In the 64th minute, Lexi Terry’s free kick sailed inches past the corner of the post.
A minute later, Kate Levy won the ball around midfield, advanced upfield and tapped a short pass lacrosse to Sabba Haghgoo. Haghgoo’s one-time shot from about 15 yards hit the crossbar.
Moments later, Feiler scored arguably the biggest goal in Mercy soccer history.
Though senior forward and leading scorer Peyton Schenning received most of the attention, Pryor was confident Feiler and senior forward Asia Minor, who had the only tally in the team’s 1-0 win at McDonogh during the regular season, would have an effect Saturday.
“Sydney and Asia are two quality seniors and I said before the game it’s going to be one of those two that’s going to step up and make a play,” Pryor said. “Syd is that kind of player. She took the game into her hands, one-on-one and made a great goal.”
“Unbelievable goal, it was almost out of nothing,” said McDonogh coach Harry Cannelakis. “Her body shape wasn’t really good to shoot, then she turned and hit it. It was an unbelievable goal.”
The Eagles’ final chance came with three minutes left in regulation, but Emma Pattis’ shot deflected off the post after a pass from Haghgoo.
McDonogh (7-4-1) went scoreless in 160 minutes of play against Mercy this season. The Magic allowed only two goals in IAAM A play, including postseason.
“Even in previous years they’ve been so tough to play because they always have hard working kids,” said Cannelakis, whose team’s run of a four straight titles was ended. “This year, they have three really dynamic forwards and that’s a handful.”
The Magic thought 2021 would be a championship breakthrough, but Schenning went down with a season-ending knee injury and their campaign never got on track.
With Schenning healthy, along with a determined veteran nucleus, Mercy became champions.
“We’ve been playing together since we’re seven,” said Feiler, who grew up playing with Schenning, Minor and defender Bella Wojcik. “This is our final night to play together and it’s a surreal feeling to end on a great note.”
“Right now, it doesn’t feel real,” said Schenning, an UMBC commit. “I’m just happy for me and my team…we did it all together.”
IAAM A CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Calvert Hall
No. 2 Mercy 1, No. 4 McDonogh 0
McDonogh 0 0 - 0
Mercy 0 1 - 1
Goals: Mercy - Sydney Feiler
Saves: McDonogh - Remi Schaller 6; Mercy - Soleil Umbarger 6