WILMINGTON – It took the St. Mark’s girls soccer team about 20 minutes of the first half to get its motor running, but the Spartans took advantage once they did. Maddie Burnham scored a controversial goal off a corner kick in the 23rd minute, giving the Spartans all the cushion they would need in a 2-0 Catholic Conference win over Ursuline on May 2.
St. Mark’s had just two corners all day, and they took advantage on the first one. Hannah Schepers delivered the ball on a high arc to the middle of the crowded crease. Ursuline goalkeeper Allie Olmstead had it for a second, but the ball squirted loose, and it was headed by Sarah Zaremba. Burnham was there to knock it past Olmstead and into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Ursuline’s players immediately began protesting that Burnham had hit the ball with her hands before kicking, but the arguments fell on deaf ears. The Spartans had a brief, muted celebration before heading to midfield, unsure if the goal would stand, but it did.
The Spartans owned the rest of the half, keeping the Raiders out of the offensive zone most of the time. St. Mark’s had another chance in the 36th minute on a direct kick from about 30 yards, but Olmstead made the save.
Ursuline had controlled the play for the game’s first 20 minutes but could not convert that into a goal. The Raiders’ best chance came in the 11th minute, when Martha Skehan took a crossing pass and blasted a shot from 22 yards out. It sailed over the head of St. Mark’s keeper Gillian Bruce and clanged off the crossbar.
Ursuline came out with a purpose in the second half, putting immense pressure on the Spartans in an attempt to level the score. Two minutes into the half, Jenna LaPira sent a left-footed shot toward Bruce, who slowed it enough that the ball died before reaching the line. A free kick in the 51st minute hit off the crossbar. The Raiders also had back-to-back corners and a shot off a throw-in within a five-minute span, but they could not capitalize.
Skehan got Bruce off her line in the 56th but could not find a teammate in front, and Alisha Lewis sent a shot over the net a minute later. St. Mark’s held on to the one-goal advantage until the final minute, when Schepers gave the Spartans an insurance tally.
Each team had 10 shots. Ursuline was awarded four corner kicks to two for the Spartans.
The Spartans ended a two-game losing streak and are now 4-7. They play at St. Georges Tech on Friday at 3:45 p.m. For Ursuline (5-4-1), the schedule does not get any easier. Next up is Archmere at home at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, and Padua comes after that, next Tuesday.