Chris Karpovich, the starting goalkeeper for Loyola Blakefield and the grandson of the legendary Calvert Hall soccer coach Bill Karpovich, who passed away in 2014, did his best to ruin the Cardinals’ championship aspirations, Monday afternoon, when he saved 11 shots, many which were spectacular. The third-ranked Cardinals, however, finally broke through in a scoreless battle, with 17 minutes to play and went on to defeat the Dons, 2-0, to advance in the MIAA A Conference playoffs.
Despite constant pressure in the offensive end, Calvert Hall could not solve Karpovich until senior Brady O’Connor flipped a direct kick over the Loyola wall and inside the right post, from 18 yards out, in the 63rd minute.
Four minutes later, Ben Bender stole a pass to the left of the box, dribbled forward a few yards and then crossed it back into the center to a waiting Ben Alexander who one-timed a 1-on-1 opportunity, again inside the right post for the 2-0 advantage.
Calvert Hall (11-4-1) had dominated Loyola, 5-1, in a home match late in the regular season, but the Dons (6-11) did knock off the Cardinals earlier in the year, giving them a measure of confidence heading into the post-season.
Karpovich’s performance gave the boys from Blakefield even more confidence.
In the first half, Karpovich made a diving save on an Alexander shot that caromed off the post before being cleared by the Loyola defense.
Minutes later Alexander made a run from the left and Karpovich made another spectacular diving stop, before gathering himself and making a brilliant save, with his feet. Seconds after that, Alexander triggered another point-blank blast and again Karpovich turned the ball away.
In Monday’s other A Conference quarterfinal, fourth-seeded McDonogh dispatched fifth-seed Gilman, 3-2, in Owings Mills, in an overtime thriller.
Luke Davis scored the golden goal with just 3 minutes, 37 seconds to play in the first overtime, as the No. 4 Eagles avoided what may have been a difficult loss after building a 2-0 lead.
Aidan Welsh gave McDonogh a 1-0 advantage late in the first half, scoring off of a free kick, and the Eagles (14-6) doubled their lead when they were awarded a penalty kick, early in the second half. Casey Settleman buried the opportunity into the net, after Brian Lenzer was fouled in the box.
Gilman, however, won a pair of penalty kicks later in the half, the second with just 8 minutes to play, and freshman Teddy Ndje converted both of them to help the Greyhounds (9-6-4) earn overtime.
Monday’s results sets up Thursday’s semifinal matchups, as McDonogh will visit No. 1 Archbishop Curley and Calvert Hall will travel to No. 2 Mount St. Joseph. St. Joe defeated the Cardinals twice in the regular season, while Curley and McDonogh split their two encounters.
Thursday’s winners will meet in the MIAA A Conference title game on Sunday at Anne Arundel Community College. The opening kick is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m.