Eagles dominate the second half, but have to survive a late flurry by the Cardinals
by Gary Adornato
Second-ranked McDonogh did not play its best soccer of 2017, Friday afternoon at Calvert Hall, but the undefeated Eagles did find a second half rhythm that sparked them to a 2-0 lead and they held on for a 2-1 MIAA A Conference victory over the defending champion and 10th-ranked Cardinals.
Neither team created any real advantage over the first 30 minutes of play as the ball was largely battered back and forth within 25-yards of midfield. The Eagles, however, began to push forward more frequently in the final 10 minutes of the half. They pressed that advantage in the second half and dominated action for the first 35 minutes.
McDonogh finally broke through on the scoreboard with 25:24 to play when Andrew Privett struck a perfect ball on a direct kick from 38-yards out. The shot, which drifted slightly from right to left, snuck in the right upper 90, out of the reach of Calvert Hall goalkeeper Spencer Nattans.
“I was telling him to chip a ball in and have somebody go after it and, like most good players do, they ignore the coach when you are supposed to,” said McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta, who has his team off to a 6-0 start with a 5-0 record in the MIAA A Conference. “He hit a 38-yard free-kick bomb. He stepped up and we needed a goal at that point. It got us going.”
According to Quaranta it was the third time this season that Privett had scored off of a direct kick and all three came in clutch situations.
“It was in a weird position,” said Privett of the ball’s placement prior to his strike. “I saw the goalie was out so I just hit it with as much power as I could and it found its way to the back of the net.”
The Eagles doubled their lead in the 61st minute when Luke Davis ripped a low hard shot from right side of the box. The shot sent Nattans sprawling and he was able to get enough of the ball to keep it from crossing the goal. However, it trickled from his grasp towards the far post, where McDonogh’s Casey Settleman was waiting for a simple tap in and a 2-0 McDonogh lead.
To its credit, Calvert Hall did not quit and the Cardinals nearly got the game tied. With 4:21 to play, Cardinal senior Dylan Burruss drove a ball into the box, from the right corner, which ended up deflecting off an Eagle defender and into the goal to cut the McDonogh lead to 2-1. Then, with 2:45 left, the Cardinals slotted the ball inside to senior Trey Stallings who one-timed a rocket towards the goal. McDonogh keeper Kieren Baskett made a brilliant diving block to preserve the McDonogh lead, which was not threatened again.
Baskett, a junior transfer from Canada who has played for several Canadian junior national teams, is a welcome addition at the Owings Mills school.
“We’ve had good goalies the last couple of years, but he’s special,” said Quaranta. “He made a big save today. If he lets that ball in, who knows what happens in the game. If you are expecting him to be the best keeper in the league, and that’s my expectations for him, he needs to make plays like that.”
Baskett finished with four saves in the contest and Nattans made six, as both keepers stood out for their sides.
According to Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand, who is molding a young group after the graduation of so much star power from last year’s title squad, the Cardinals are progressing well despite the setback.
“We’re going to keep working and I know we’re going to get a little better each game,” said Zinkand. “I give McDonogh credit today — they held the possession, they played well. We’re just looking to take advantage of the opportunities we’re given. We’re creating them, but just not finishing them at the rate we need to.”
With its five league wins, McDonogh holds first place in the A Conference. Next week the Eagles will face top-ranked Archbishop Curley and No. 8 Mount St. Joseph, the two teams directly behind them in the standings, each with four wins. Calvert Hall is now 3-2, overall and in the league.
NO. 2 MCDONOGH 2, NO. 10 CALVERT HALL 1
MCD 0 2 — 2
CH 0 1 — 1
GOALS: McD-Privett, Settleman; CH-Buress.
SAVES: McD-Baskett 4; Nattans 6.