Gilman’s Jared Sullivan said it best.
“This is my eighth time playing McDonogh, and every time we’ve been disappointed at the end, but this is it, we finally did it,” said the senior midfielder.
Indeed, they did it.
Gilman moved into first place in the tough MIAA A Conference, with one game to play, by capturing a thrilling, hard fought, 2-1 win over the visiting Eagles with a goal from freshman Sam Wancowicz in the second overtime, Tuesday afternoon in Roland Park.
As dusk settled over Gilman’s turf field, Wancowicz banged home a left-footed shot. The play began with an inside volley by Ryan Tucker, who had scored Gilman’s first goal early in the second half. Joey Cahalan attempted a bicycle shot off the feed, but was unable to put his foot on the ball as he tangled with a defender. Instead, the ball caromed off Cahalan’s body, towards Wancowicz, who calmly took advantage of a suddenly open lane between him and the goal.
“It hit off my chest, and fell to Sam,” said Cahalan. “Sam was in the right place at the rght time, and he put it away.”
“It dropped to me,” added Wancowicz. “It was all in the cleats then.”
The first half was played at a fast pace with playoff intensity. Both teams missed on some quality opportunities and the half ended in a scoreless tie. Tucker broke the ice one minute into the second half with an opportunistic play.
Christian Wulff hit an outside shot from thirty yards which McDonogh goalie Matt Sanchez easily headed off. As the ball skipped off the turf, Sanchez blocked it with his chest instead of scooping it into his arms. The rebound ventured a little further than Sanchez expected, allowing Tucker to get on it and drill it into the net.
“My goal came from Christian,” said Tucker. “He played it in over the top, which is usually what the team does, and they just want me to run on it.”
The lead held up until McDonogh’s Kyle DeVinney got a clutch tying score with 16:33 to go in regulation.
From there, both teams showed tenacity and grit, and every possession was hard fought. Gilman coach Jon Seal congratulated McDonogh, showering them with high praise.
“They’re a fantastic team, as well coached as any team in the country,” said Seal. “I’m proud of the guts and character our kids showed.
“We found a way to pick each other up.”
Gilman keeper Andrew Harris, who has ten shutouts this season, said that he knew coming in that it would go down as one of the great games in MIAA history.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Harris. “With all the drama, and all the great plays from McDonogh.”
Harris finished with 17 saves, ten of which came in the first half.
The Eagles pressured Harris throughout the second half, but the Gilman defenders were able to hold high scoring Mike Gamble and Julian Griggs in check. Sanchez, just a sophomore, responded with 16 saves for the Eagles.
Coach Steve Nichols was trying to clinch his fourth consecutive regular season first place finish at McDonogh. That goal is still within reach, but it will require a win over Loyola at Blakefield on Thursday, coupled with a Gilman loss or tie against Archbishop Spalding in its last regular season game, also on Thursday.
McDonogh and Mount St. Joseph are each one point back of Gilman, while Calvert Hall is three back of the Eagles and Gaels. Thus, every seed remains open for shuffling, pending the outcome of Thursday’s action.
To view videos, click on the Related Videos link above.
|No. 6 Gilman 2, No. 3 McDonogh 1, 2 OT|
McD-DeVinney; GIL-Tucker, Wancowicz.
McD-Sanchez 16, GIL-Harris 17.