Jake Mazzei’s goal in the 33rd minute was all Mount St. Joseph needed Friday as the third-ranked Gaels knocked off top-ranked Calvert Hall College, 1-0, in a crucial MIAA A Conference soccer match at Russo Stadium in Towson.
The win gives the Gaels (11-2-2 overall, 10-2-2 MIAA A) sole possession of the first (32 points) in the league, ahead of The Hall (12-4-2, 10-4-1 MIAA) and Archbishop Curley (10-2-1 MIAA) who both have 31 points. The Irvington school also completed a regular season sweep of the Cardinals.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Gaels coach Mike St. Martin said. “It puts us in a good position for hopefully getting one of the first two spots. In this league, not having to play the quarterfinals is a big plus.”
Calvert Hall had two quality chances to strike in the first half. In the 12th minute as senior Chris Carroll played a through ball behind the Gael defense to senior Ben Alexander. As Alexander tried rounding Gael goalkeeper Nicholas DeShong to score, DeShong stopped the ball with his left arm after sliding at Alexander’s feet.
In the 24th minute, senior Brady O’Conner dribbled past three defenders before unleashing a shot with the outside of his right foot from 25 yards out that went just wide of the right post.
The Gaels finally made something happen in the 32nd minute. Senior captain Joseph Clark played a soft touch over a Cardinal defender and found fellow senior Andrew Robbins who shot between senior goalkeeper Kyle Cooper’s legs. Cooper slid and got a slight touch on it with his heel and the ball went out for a corner.
The corner was taken from the right side, and was cleared by the Cardinal to the left sideline, where it was picked up by junior Jordan Ehart. Ehart played a cross deep into the six-yard box where it was met by a sliding Mazzei who tapped it into the goal.
“We watched some film on them recently and saw that their weakness is across the back in the air,” said Mzzei So when we got to the sideline, we tried crossing as much as we can. It was a great ball by Jordan and I just put it away.”
The Cardinals had a chance to get even in the 54th minute. Alexander won the ball back deep in the Gael’s corner and passed back to Carroll. Carroll took a shot from a tough angle that was handled with ease by DeShong.
Though the Cardinals were pushing hard at the end of the game, they were unable to get any quality scoring chances.
“Our goal was to finish first or second in the league,” said Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand. “Dropping today’s match hurts us a bit. We’ll see how things shake out in the end. I think there’s a fine line between winning and losing this year, so we’ll bounce back.”
Calvert Hall has one league game left, next Friday afternoon at home against Archbishop Spalding. Mount Saint Joseph has two conference games remaining with John Carroll School at home on Wednesday and at St. Paul’s School Friday.
Elsewhere in the MIAA A Conference, No. 2 Curley got first half goals from Nick Richardson and Corey Burton to win, 2-1, at Archbishop Spalding. With three games to play next week, Curley is now tied with Calvert Hall for second-place with 31 points, both one point back of St. Joe.
The advantage for the Friars, who defeated both the Gaels and Cardinals this week, is that they have three games left next week. McDonogh (8-6) avenged an earlier loss to Gilman (6-4-3) with a 2-1 win over the Greyhounds in Roland Park.
The victory pushed the Eagles three points in front of Gilman in the battle for fourth place which comes with a home game in the quarterfinal round.