Higher seeds advance after getting strong challenges at home

The second season is underway in the MIAA A Conference and the league’s soccer playoffs got underway with two thrillers, Monday afternoon, as higher seeds Mount St. Joseph and Loyola Blakefield had to rally from behind to advance to Thursday’s semifinals.

In Irvington, sixth-ranked Mount St. Joseph (14-5-1), the third seed, absorbed an early blow as sixth-seeded and 18th-ranked Calvert Hall (8-10) came out hot and took a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Dylan Burris and Ben Bender.

A hand ball in the box opened the door for the Gaels, midway through the first half, and Ian Reger converted the ensuing penalty kick to get the Gaels on the board. Later in the half, Casey McCanna, with an assist from Tyler Collins, got the game squared.

St. Joe then picked up the pace in the second half and got the game-winner when McCanna assisted Tolu Iluyomade and the Gaels closed out a 3-2 victory.

At Blakefield, four seeded and 11th-ranked Loyola got on the board first when John Peterson, midway through the first half, converted a pass from Jason D’Addario into a goal from the top of the 18 yard box.

The Dons (13-7-1) held their 1-0 advantage into the second half, but the Greyhounds got the game even off when Joe Malanson scored off a long throw-in. Then, off a free kick, Gilman took a 2-1 lead as Gregg Diette blasted a quick shot into an open net.

The Greyhounds (8-10-2) got within 90 seconds of a third consecutive win over the Dons, as well as earning a spot in the semifinals. Loyola, however, got the late equalizer when Peterson headed home a beautiful curling cross by Dominic Caltabiano.

The game then went to overtime where Alex Reide won it for the Dons with three minutes left in the first extra period, scoring on a header with the assist going to Cole Hendrix.

St. Joe will now travel to second-seeded Archbishop Curley on Thursday. The Gaels defeated the Friars in their last meeting. Loyola will go to Owings Mills, also on Thursday, to face top-ranked McDonogh in the other semifinal. Thursday’s winners will advance to Sunday’s (Nov. 5) MIAA A Conference Championship Game at Anne Arundel Community College (5:00 p.m.).