Friars advance to a semifinal date at top-ranked Loyola; Gilman blanks Mount St. Joe to also reach the semifinals
by Joe DiBlasi
One of the oldest cliches in sports, is that it is hard to defeat a team three times in a single season. Facing just such a challenge, Monday in the MIAA A Conference soccer quarterfinals against long-time rival Calvert Hall, No. 7 Archbishop Curley faced that theory head on.
Despite blowing a 2-0 first half lead, and later surrendering a 3-2 advantage, the host Friars (11-7-1) exploded in the final stages of the game to pull away for an 8-3 victory and complete the season sweep of the No. 11 Cardinals (10-9). The victory sends Curley back to the league semifinals and they will visit top-seeded Loyola on Thursday at Blakefield.
Senior midfielder Anthony Dragisics had a hat-trick and senior forward Alex Martonez Herrero, a senior transfer from Spain, had two goals and two assists to lead the Friars.
Curley took an early 2-0 lead on goals from Bryce Woodward and Herrero, but the Hall pulled to within one goal late in the first half when Ryan Fascetta scored on a feed from Ben Bender.
Eight minutes into the second half, Calvert Hall’s Dylan Burruss made it 2-2 on a cross from James Garfink.
The game didn’t stay tied for long. Two minutes after the Burruss goal, Dragisics banged home a leaping half volley, from 16 yards, out for Curley to give the Friars a 3-2 lead.
The excitement was just getting started.
Three minutes later, the Hall responded with a gorgeous goal off the foot of Bender. The shot floated over the head of keeper Mike Caulkkns, and spun into the net, tying the game again.
T. Garcia broke the tie for the Friars with 22 minutes to go in regulation, and just nine seconds later, they made it 5-3 when Herrero knocked in his second goal of the game.
Curley put the icing on the cake with three more scores to finish with a five-goal victory that will send them to Blakefield on Thursday with some momentum.
“Things clicked today,” said Curley coach Barry Stitz. “I thought we scored some really pretty goals. Credit to Calvert Hall. I thought at 2-0 we were in a good place, but they kept fighting back and they tied it up twice.
When you relinquish a lead, it’s easy for momentum to change, and we didn’t allow that to happen today.”
Stitz praised the performance of Dragisics.
“He is one of the best leaders I’ve had here in 19 years. He leads by example on the field and in the classroom.”
“Eight goals is a testament to how far this team has come since the beginning of the season,” said Dragisics. “I feel like we’re playing our best soccer now, which is what you want going into the playoffs.
“We respect Calvert Hall. They are a great team and we knew they were going to push, but we were able to respond to it.”
According to Herrero, the team’s confidence remained strong.
“After it was tied 3-3, we scored five more goals,” said the Spaniard. “That was a little surprising, but we know we can do it. We are going for the championship.”
Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand saw his team put quite a fight, despite a roster besieged by key injuries, before the roof caved in late in the second half.
“I give a lot of credit to Curley,” said Zinkand. “It would have been easy to fold when we were down 2-0, but we didn’t quit. We had a lot of guys playing out of position and guys playing a lot more minutes than we would have liked to cover some of the holes, but this team is resilient and they worked hard. We just came up a little short this year.”
Pictured above: Curley’s Dylan Sloan (#7) plays a ball forward, between teammate Kenny Clapp and Calvert Hall’s Andy Christ (#12).
NO. 7 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 8, NO. 11 CALVERT HALL 3
CH 1 2 — 3
AC 2 6 — 8
Goals: CH-Fascetta, Burruss, Bender; AC-Dragisics 3, Herrero 2, Woodward, Garcia, Bravo.
Assists: CH-Bender, Garfink; AC-Harry 2, Herrero 2, Anderson, Holy.
Saves: CH-Nattans 11; AC-Caulkins 3.
NO. 6 GILMAN 2, NO. 17 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 0
In Tuesday’s other semifinal, senior Logan Paff scored a pair of second half goals to power No. 6 Gilman to a 2-0 win over No. 17 Mount St. Joseph, in Roland Park.
Gilman, the third seed, advances to a semifinal date at second-seeded McDonogh on Thursday.
Paff’s first goal came at 31:55 mark of the second half when he banged home a cross from senior Simon Warfield.
St. Joe continued to press, but the Greyhound defense was outstanding, keeping the sheet clean until the Greyhounds were able to ice the victory with 14:16 remaining.
The second goal was triggered by a free kick from Eli Webb into the box. Webb’s volley was was headed on by Michael Brittingham and punched into the net by Paff.