McDonogh School’s boys’ soccer youth movement took a giant step forward on Wednesday evening against Mount. St. Joseph.

The No. 4 Eagles rallied for a pair of goals — both by sophomores — in the second half to rally past the No. 3 Gaels, 2-1, at Dixon Field in Owings Mills, in a MIAA A Conference soccer match.

“We have a lot of young guys this year,” said McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta, whose team improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in MIAA A play. “So we have to learn how to grind these games out, and it’s not always pretty. We have a lot of lessons to learn, and we’re learning them on the fly. Was it a masterpiece? Probably not.”

St. Joe (1-1, 1-1 MIAA A), coming off a 3-0 rout of fifth-ranked Loyola Blakefield, seemed poised to secure another key conference victory after taking a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute on a breakaway-and-finish by Jake Mazzei.

The sequence started when senior Andrew Robbins won a 50-50 ball and found Mazzei about 40 yards from the McDonogh goal. With an Eagle defender just behind him, the junior sprinted toward the goal while controlling the ball before neatly directing it to the corner of the net.

McDonogh keeper William Little had almost no chance to make the stop, although the senior goalie made amends early in the second half by making a brilliant one-handed save on a junior Brett St. Martin’s header.

“We could have gone up, 2-0,” said St. Joe coach Mike St. Martin about the shot by his son. “It was great save. The ball was headed to the lower left corner.”

The turning point came when a foul in the box on a Gael defender gave the Eagles a penalty kick, which was converted by Luke Davis to knot the score with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.

After Little elevated to make another save on a long direct kick by junior Ian Reger to keep the score deadlocked, the Eagles earned a direct kick of their own a couple of minutes later and made it count when Andrew Privett’s 30-yard drive went through the hands of the Gaels’ keeper Nick DeShong for a 2-1 lead.

“I was shocked to see it go in,” said Privett after notching the first game-winning goal of his career and the second of the new season.

A brief shower that passed through the area may have been a contributor to the usually reliable DeShong’s miscue.

“The ball was a little slick, but that’s a save Nick usually makes,” said Mike St. Martin said. “We had chances to put the game away earlier and we didn’t do it.”

Both teams traded missed chances in the early going when McDonogh junior Casey Settleman’s laser just missed the upper left corner and Mazzei nearly converted a header for the Gaels that sailed wide in the 32nd minute.

Christopher MacDonald then was denied by DeShong when the McDonogh senior offered a strong shot after converting a feed from Davis.

“We need a lot of our young guys to step up,” Quaranta said. “Look at our schedule. We have (No. 1) Calvert Hall on Friday. We have to continue to make big plays.”

MSJ   1   0   1
McD   0   2   2
MSJ – Jake Mazzei; McD – Luke Davis, Andrew Privett.
ASSISTS: MSJ – Andrew Robbins.
SAVES: MSJ – DeShong 7; McD – Little 5.