While waiting to depart for Homewood Field on Monday evening for a date with arch-rival Loyola Blakefield in the MIAA A Conference lacrosse semifinals, the top-ranked Calvert Hall Cardinals found themselves stranded as the bus scheduled to transport them was a no show.

The mix-up sent Cardinals coach Bryan Kelly and his staff scrambling to commandeer several of the school’s mini-buses to get the squad to the Johns Hopkins campus on time.

Despite their late arrival, the Cardinals (15-2) got off to a fast start against the Dons (8-8), racing to a 7-1 first quarter lead and nailing down their spot in Thursday’s championship game with a 12-8 victory.

“I’m just glad we got here. We didn’t have a bus,” Kelly quipped. “The bus company got mixed up, so we got five mini-buses and had the coaches driving.”

In the opening seconds both teams had a quality shot saved by the opposing goalkeeper, but Calvert Hall broke the ice shortly thereafter and then turned on the gas.

Senior PJ Peters got free in space in the middle of the field and slipped the ball out to the left to a streaking JT Bugliosi, who buried an over-head blast to put the Cardinals up, 1-0, with 9:34 to play in the opening quarter. The second Calvert Hall goal did not take nearly as long to produce.

Senior Michael Autry won the draw and roared to the net, scoring unassisted, just six seconds removed from Bugliosi’s strike and the Cardinals led, 2-0.

Loyola countered with a score from junior Liam Bateman, who converted a feed from freshman Jack Koras, at 8 minutes, 36 seconds, cutting the Dons’ deficit to one, temporarily.

Following the Bateman goal, Calvert Hall reeled off five consecutive unassisted goals to close out the first quarter. In the run, Bugliosi scored twice to complete an opening quarter hat-trick. Junior Jacob Kelly also scored twice and junior Zach Green scored once, as the Cardinals built a commanding 7-1 lead.

“We knew we had to come out and get on them quick, just like we did Tuesday and we got a pretty good lead on them,” said Bugliosi, who’s headed to national Division I semifinalist Ohio State University.

Brendan Curry continued the burst, with an unassisted tally at the 11:18 mark of the second quarter, and Calvert Hall had scored six goals in a span of 7 minutes and 9 seconds, to lead 8-1.

Alex Reid finally got Loyola back on the board at the 3:33 mark with an unassisted tally, but Green scored his second for Calvert Hall, with an assist from Cole Herbert, with 2:52 remaining in the half and Calvert Hall took a 9-2 lead into the intermission.

Despite the big halftime lead, Kelly warned his team the Dons would make a run, just as they did in the regular season finale between the two teams last Tuesday.

“I told them at halftime, we have to weather the storm,” said Kelly. “Loyola is going to come out and give us everything that they have. I thought our kids weathered it well and kept their composure, better than we did on Tuesday.”

True to Kelly’s words, Loyola started quickly in the third quarter, as Bateman scored his second goal, unassisted, in the first minute and and Koras added another unassisted tally with 1:01 elapsed in the second half.

Calvert Hall, however, blanked the Dons the rest of the quarter and added an extra-man goal of its own, as sophomore Jack Sawyer assisted senior Omari DeBerry at the 7:32 mark. After three quarters, the Cardinals led 10-4.

Loyola coach Ben Rubeor feared a slow start by his squad, an unwanted trademark the Dons have carried this season.

“I thought we did need to start faster. That’s the second game in a row against them we went down four goals early,” said Rubeor. “They are a really good team, very athletic, and we knew we were going to have some match-up problems. I give a lot of credit to them for making some plays.

“We knew clearing was going to be important and I didn’t think we cleared well enough early. I felt they got some easy ones off those failed clears. I give my boys a lot of credit for fighting to the end, but it’s tough to try and fight back from holes like that.”

Green, a bit of an unsung hero for the Cardinals, completed a hat-trick early in the final quarter, before the Dons battled back to within four down the stretch.

Kelly praised Green for his often unheralded work in the offense.

“We stress the hockey assist (the pass before the assist),” said Kelly. “We keep hockey assist stats and Green may not be in the paper much for goals and assists, but he’s done a great job of getting hockey assists for us.”

For his part, Green is thrilled to contribute and have an opportunity to play for a championship.

“I’m really excited,” said Green. “During my time at Calvert Hall, I’ve never been to a championship game and I’m just really excited to get out there.”

Loyola senior Phil Wies, who will play for national Division I semifinalist Towson University next spring, closed his high school career with a flurry, netting a fourth quarter hat-trick, with Bateman assisting on two of them, and Alex Reid also scored for the Dons. Calvert Hall also got a fourth quarter goal from Jacob Kelly, as he became the third Cardinal with a hat-trick in the contest.

Calvert Hall will return to Homewood Field on Thursday to face defending champion and third-ranked McDonogh School, which defeated No. 2 Boys’ Latin, 11-8, in Monday’s other semifinal, regardless of whether its bus shows up or not.

MIAA A CONFERENCE LACROSSE SEMIFINALS
AT HOMEWOOD FIELD, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
NO. 1 CALVERT HALL COLLEGE 12, NO. 6 LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD 8

LOY  1  1  2  4  —   8
CH    7  2  1  2  —  12
GOALS:
LOYOLA – Liam Bateman 2, Jack Koras 1, Alex Reid 1, Phil Wies 2; CALVERT HALL -JT Bugliosi 3, Jacob Kelly 2, Zach Green 3, Omari DeBerry 1, Brendan Curry 1, Michael Autry 1.
ASSISTS: LOYOLA – Jack Koras 1, Patrick Norris 1; CALVERT HALL – PJ Peters 1, Jack Sawyer 1, JT Bugliosi 1.
SAVES: LOYOLA – Jake Stout 10; CALVERT HALL – Liam Darragh 6.