Eagles edge No. 3 Loyola to take over first place in MIAA A Conference


by Joe DiBlasi

From the start everybody in the MIAA A Conference has been chasing top-ranked Calvert Hall, throughout the 2021 soccer season.

For No. 2 McDonogh, that pursuit was accomplished on Friday.

The Eagles’ 3-2 decision over No. 3 Loyola in Owings Mills, their 10th straight victory since a 1-0 loss to the Dons one month ago, combined with the Cardinals loss at Gilman earlier in the week, finally pushed McDonogh to the top of the table and put them in position to take over the No. 1 ranking when VSN’s new Boys Soccer Top 20 comes out on Monday.

The Eagles (17-2 overall, 14-2 MIAA A), with 42 conference points, are now two points ahead of Calvert Hall. Loyola (9-5-3) slipped back into fourth place, two points behind John Carroll, a 4-2 winner at Mount St. Joseph on Friday.

The Eagles broke on top when high scoring Jacob Murrell banged home a follow up goal at 26:29 in the first half, after Loyola keeper Jordy Eckman stopped a head on shot from Ethan Glaser.

Thirty seconds later, Blakfield’s Evan Onate answered on a feed from Jackson Graham to tie the score.

In the ensuing next 45 seconds, the Dons’ brilliant keeper was a bit unfortunate, when Murrell alertly intercepted a ball in the box and scored his second goal in a little over one minute of play to put the Eagles back on top 2-1.

The resilient Dons tied it again, 2-2, halfway through the second half, when Sammy Walker lofted a beautiful shot from the 18 that found the twine.

Seven minutes later, the Eagles got what proved to be the winning goal on a great individual effort from Bryant Mayer.

“I got the ball out wide and decided to dribble in,” said Mayer. “I cut inside and tried to get off a left-footed shot, but it was blocked, so I cut back to my right, had an opening, and I got a clean foot on it and put it up top.”

Murrell, who now has a remarkable league-leading 28 goals on the year, to go with 13 assists, said, “That was a great effort from Bryant to put it away, and win it for us.

“It was a very exciting win. They have a good team. They buzz around. They have a lot of real good young players. We were very resilient the entire game, and our defense again created our offense. For them to tie it twice, and then for us to go back up, showed great effort.”

McDonogh Coach Brandon Quaranta said his team played a fantastic second half, and Murrell was the key again.

“I’m running out of superlatives to describe that man,” said Quaranta. “He’s a leader and he’s the hardest worker on the team. Loyola is a very good team and they’ve been our top rival the last few years. Lee (Tschantret) does a great job of getting them organized, and they’re always ready to play.”

For his part, Tschantret said, “Three games in one week is difficult, and it caught up with us today in the second half when we were a bit slow.”

Tschantret knows there is a little room for error when playing McDonogh.

“They are very dangerous. They counter attack well; they play a lot of balls into the channels; they play a 4-4-2 diamond, and they have a lot of guys who can go one on one. We had some good opportunities today, and I thought we played a very even first half, but they lumped it over the top to Jacob and (Ethan) Glazer, and they are a handful.

“Jordy (Eckman) played well again today and kept us in the game. It was just unfortunate on that play when he parried that ball [that lead to that score by Murrell].”

McDonogh can control their own destiny, and finish as the top seed in the conference, if they win their remaining games against John Carroll, Boys’ Latin, Gilman and St. Paul’s. A loss in any of those games, opens the door for Calvert Hall move back on top.

Pictured above: Jacob Murrell (left) scored two first half goals and Bryant Mayer netted what proved to be the game-winning, in the second half, as No. 2 McDonogh moved into first place in the MIAA A Conference with a 3-2 win over No. 3 Loyola.

NO. 2 MCDONOGH 3, NO. 3 LOYOLA 2

LOY 1 1 — 2
MCD 2 1 — 3

GOALS: LOY-Onate, Walker; MCD-Murrell 2, Maryer.
ASSISTS: LOY-Graham.
SAVES: LOY-Eckman 7; MCD-Anderson 4.