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McGlinn looks to spoil Cavanaugh’s perfect season

Brian Hartnett | Thursday, November 17, 2011

A new interhall champion will be crowned Sunday on the hallowed grounds of Notre Dame Stadium when No. 1 Cavanaugh and No. 6 McGlinn face off in a matchup of well-rounded teams with remarkable efficiency on both sides of the ball.

When analyzing both Cavanaugh (8-0) and McGlinn (6-2), one similarity jumps out: Each team can put points on the board. Their offensive success is largely due to a pair of senior quarterbacks who command high-powered attacks, with Rebecca Cink leading Cavanaugh and Lauren Miller behind center for McGlinn.

These quarterbacks are complemented by an array of offensive threats, with senior receivers Brittni Alexander and Bridget Bredemann hauling in several touchdowns for Cavanaugh and senior receiver Kate Tucker and freshman receiver Emma Collis putting points on the board for McGlinn consistently.

As prolific as these offenses may be, members of both teams said their stout defensive units have played an equally large part in their success.

“I think that everything starts with our defense,” Cavanaugh senior captain and defensive back Maggie Fahrenbach said. “With our defense posting so many shutouts, the offense has been able to go out on the field and not have to worry about coming back from behind.”

Cavanaugh’s defense has stifled its opponents with six shutouts on the season, including a 19-0 semifinal win over No. 5 Pasquerilla West. The Chaos’ secondary has generated several key turnovers, and its stable defensive line, led by senior Gina Paietta, junior Tegan Chapman and sophomore Julie Cleveland, has pressured opposing quarterbacks.

“I think we have been successful on defense because we communicate so effectively,” Fahrenbach said. “Our defensive line is really strong, and the pressure on the quarterbacks makes it easier for the linebackers and safeties to do their job.”

McGlinn has also received solid efforts from its defensive unit. The Shamrock defense has posted three shutouts, with two coming in playoff wins over No. 3 Farley and the defending champion, No. 7 Howard.

“I really think that much credit for our playoff success should be given to our defense,” Tucker said. “They have kept us in all of our games and given us many opportunities to score.”

Tucker cited the defense’s aggressiveness as one of McGlinn’s main strengths, particularly the intensity of a successful defensive line.

With strong units on both sides of the ball, the fate of Sunday’s game could rest on which team has more stops.

With that realization in mind, Fahrenbach emphasized Cavanaugh’s plans to fine-tune its defense for Sunday’s matchup.

“We’re just going to focus on not giving up long plays, making sure we’re not missing flags and being good on coverage,” Fahrenbach said. “Our offense has been running very specific routes against our defense so that we know how to defend them for the game.”

Tucker mentioned similar preparations in McGlinn’s game plan, but also addressed the need for a strong offensive performance.

“We need to make sure that our defense plays aggressive and tight and that we are connecting on offense,” Tucker said. “We have had a couple of dropped passes on offense throughout this season, which has made our points come more slowly, but hopefully we’re spot on for Sunday.”

Although both teams have taken divergent paths to Notre Dame Stadium, they equally understand how significant a championship will be to their hall.

A victory would allow members of the Chaos to finally etch their names in Cavanaugh’s history.

“Cavanaugh last won the championship the year before I came to Notre Dame, so that’s all I have heard about for the last four years,” Fahrenbach said. “It would mean a lot to win because Cavanaugh is a big community dorm and there is a lot of focus on the football team.”

For Tucker and the rest of the Shamrocks, a win would add another chapter to McGlinn’s strong sports legacy.

“The other three seniors and I were in the championship three years ago, so we’re really looking forward to coming back and seeing what we can do on Sunday,” Tucker said.

“Our dorm is really into athletics, so it would be great if we could pull off the championship.”

The championship match kicks off at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Notre Dame Stadium.