Concordia Prep closes a hot late-season run with the MIAA B Conference soccer crown

Taylor Calheira, one of 12 seniors on the Concordia Prep soccer team, had a goal and an assist to lead the Saints to victory against Friends School in the MIAA B title game.

by Gary Adornato

Despite entering the post-season as the fourth seed in the MIAA B Conference, the Concordia Prep boys soccer team, at full strength for the first time since early in the season, put it in fifth gear over the final weeks of the season, and steamrolled to a championship.

The Saints completed their strong finish with a 3-0 win over third-seeded Friends School in the league title game, Sunday afternoon at Anne Arundel Community College. It was Concordia’s second championship in three years and their third straight appearance in a title game. The Saints won the 2016 C Conference crown and were runners-up, to Friends, in the B Conference last year.

In closing the year on a seven-game winning streak, the Saints beat top-seeded Boys’ Latin twice, including a 4-0 rout in the tournament semifinals, and outscored their opponents 28-5 over that stretch. All three playoff victories were shutouts

In the title game, Concordia nearly exited a dominate first half without goal, but with just nine second to go before intermission, the Saints got the spark they needed.

Taylor Calheira, who recently returned from Brazil where he explored some professional opportunities, slotted a ball to Ryan Flury, who finished from 15 yards out.

Friends battled for the equalizer, but instead the Saints stretched their lead early in the second half when Justin Draper converted a feed from Angel Poblete, from the left edge of the box. Later in the half, Calheira put the icing on the cake with an unassisted goal.

“It was a great team effort. I couldn’t do it without these guys,” said Calheira. “Only two juniors starting and everybody else are seniors. We were the fourth seed, but we beat Boys’ Latin away the last week of the season. We were comfortable and thought we could win.”

Friends graduated 12 seniors from last year’s championship squad and opened the 2018 campaign with heavy hearts as they learned that one of those departed seniors, Stephen Bogusky, had been killed in a tragic automobile accident.

They rallied around the memory of their fallen former teammate and dedicated their season to him. They even had Bogusky’s No. 7 jersey with them during the national anthem prior to Sunday’s final.

“At the beginning of the season, the expectations were really go .500 and try to make the playoffs,” said Friends coach Phil Greatwich. “With the way we started the season we showed a bit of hope. Stephen’s parents were coming to the games. A lot of those (former) seniors were coming back, talking to the boys. It just brought a lot of spirit. It could have gone either way. It could have been seen as a transitional building season, but it wasn’t. We made it all the way to the final and had a real good record. I think a lot of that had to do with everyone playing in Stephen’s memory.”

According to Concordia coach Adauto Neto, patience was critical against Friends counter-attacking style.

“We had an idea they were going to try and sit and try to counter-attack,” said Neto. “They did that to us last year and it worked well for them, but we were very patient. We had to move the ball to try and open space for guys to make runs. That’s how we scored the first goal.”

Like Greatwich last year, Neto will see 12 seniors depart this team and he honored them for the work they did in helping him build a championship program.

“It’s an unbelievable group,” said Neto. “They were there with me when I started in the C Conference and they helped me build a program from C to B. It was four special years. I’m very proud of all the seniors. I’m just very blessed to work with a great group of guys.”

Concordia finished with 16-5-1 record, while Friends finished 12-5-2.

(at Anne Arundel Community College)
CONC 1 2 — 3
FRS 0 0 — 0
GOALS: CONC-Flury, Draper, Calheira.
ASSISTS: CONC-Calheira, Poblete.
SAVES: FRS-Cullen 5; CONC-Gregory 3.