Loyola Blakefield has been a house of horrors for Calvert Hall College’s boys’ lacrosse team over the last two decades, winning just twice on the Dons’ turf. When Loyola got the early jump in Friday’s renewal of the historic rivalry, it looked as if the nightmare would continue for the Cardinals.
But top-ranked Calvert Hall awoke and slowly imposed its will to take a 10-6 decision over the No. 5 Dons in a MIAA A Conference battle in Towson. Pat Kelly had four goals and two assists for the Cardinals (10-0 overall, 6-0 MIAA A), and Ryan Brown added three goals and two assists.
The LaSalle Road school received key second half contributions to keep its perfect season intact. With Gilman School’s overtime victory over No. 2 McDonogh School Friday, Calvert Hall now stands as the only unbeaten in arguably the nation’s toughest conference.
“We just stressed one goal at a time, one play, one stop at a time,” said Cardinals coach Bryan Kelly. “I thought our man-down defense was huge today.”
Nursing a terse 7-6 lead, Calvert Hall denied the Dons (4-7, 2-6 MIAA) on a pair of extra-man opportunities in the final quarter, the latter with reserve goalie Brian Rasinski stopping three Dons attempts. The Cardinals followed with three goals to pull away.
“They’re [Loyola] a great team especially at home, they took it to us,” said Patrick Kelly. “We had to return the favor.”
Down 5-1, Calvert Hall scored five unanswered goals, capped by Kelly’s score to open the second half for its first advantage. Adam Smith pulled Loyola even at 6 on a pass from Pat Bivons.
Cardinals’ longstick defender Garrett Epple put a shot past Loyola goalie Chris Thomas, giving Calvert Hall the lead for good. Epple said Calvert Hall raised the stakes defensively after getting stunned early.
“It was a fast break and I had a guy open on my left,” said Epple about his offensive exploit. “The guy checked me and I didn’t think I had it in my stick, but it was there and I just shot it.
“Our defense has been playing well all year and we’re starting to come together. Loyola came out firing, but we weathered the storm.”
Loyola gained its final extra-man opportunity with 7 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in regulation after Calvert Hall starting goalie Jack Brust (nine saves) was flagged for tripping. Rasinski maintained the lead, getting his stick low twice to deflect a pair shots before going chest high to deflect a liner by T.J. Neubauer (two goals and one assist).
“It was nerve wracking but coach says be ready at any time,” said Rasinski, who was awarded the game ball in the post-game huddle. “When the flag went down, I was ready to go in.”
“It was just ginormous,” said Kelly. “I didn’t need to burn a timeout because I have that much confidence in him.”
Bryan Kelly needed to regroup his forces as Loyola scored five straight, capped by Smith’s extra-man tally, for the 5-1 advantage early in the second quarter. Unassisted goals by Johnny Kelly and Brown started Calvert Hall’s comeback.
Coming out of a timeout, Loyola was called for offsides, and Kelton Black’s unassisted goal brought the Cardinals to within 5-4. Calvert Hall won the ensuing faceoff with specialist Johnny Kelly, and Brown scored to tie the game with 1:57 remaining in the first half.
After a promising start, things gradually deteriorated for Loyola, which lost to the Cardinals, 10-7, nearly a month ago at Russo Stadium. Dons coach Jack Crawford said mental mistakes haunted his team.
“We gave them too many opportunities being unsettled in transition and turnovers in the neutral zone. We didn’t take away their opportunities in transition,” said Crawford, whose team look to rebound against Boys’ Latin Tuesday. “You can’t pick and choose in this league when you’re going to execute.”
Calvert Hall was far from perfect from Friday, but relishes the rare victory at Hargaden Field. The Cardinals host defending league champ and No. 3 St. Paul’s School Tuesday before going to Owings Mills for a matchup with No. 2 McDonogh.
“Our division is brutal. Any win in this league is just huge,” said Bryan Kelly. “This is a hard place [Loyola] to play and we’re really happy to come away with the W.”
No. 1 Calvert Hall College 10, No. 5 Loyola Blakefield 6
Calvert Hall 1 4 2 3-10
Loyola 4 1 1 0-6
Goals: Calvert Hall-P. Kelly 4, Brown 3, Epple, J. Kelly, Black; Loyola-Neubauer 2, Smith 2, Class, Bivons.
Assists: Calvert Hall-P. Kelly 2, Brown 2; Loyola-Class 2, Smith, Neubauer, Bivons.
Saves: Calvert Hall-Rusk 9, Rasinski 3; Loyola-Thomas 10.