Gaels seize con­fer­ence lead with staunch ‘D’

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Glenn Gra­ham glenn.gra­ham@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Glen­nGra­hamSun

The sec­ond half at Calvert Hall was quiet, which made for a noisy bus ride home for the Mount Saint Joseph soc­cer team Fri­day.

Get­ting the of­fense they needed with a goal from ju­nior Jake Mazzei late in the first half, the vis­it­ing Gaels kept the pow­er­ful Car­di­nals of­fense in check the rest of the way for a1-0 win that puts them back in first place in the Mary­land In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion A Con­fer­ence.

No. 3 Mount Saint Joseph (11-2-2) im­proved to 10-2-2 for 32 points in league play. No. 1 Calvert Hall (12-4-2) dropped its sec­ond straight league game to fall to 10-4-1 and 31 points.

Af­ter los­ing 1-0 leads twice in the past week — a 2-1 over­time loss to Arch­bishop Cur­ley last Satur­day and a 1-1 draw against Gil­man on Wed­nes­day — the Gaels clamped down to get a vic­tory in their big­gest game so far this sea­son.

“We went through the sce­nar­ios of what the play­off sit­u­a­tion looks like and knew this was go­ing to be a big game, so I was proud,” Mount Saint Joseph coach Mike St. Martin said. “Hope­fully this is some­thing we can learn from and build on. Es­pe­cially [Calvert Hall] at their place with the wind and a lot go­ing against us in the sec­ond half. So, mov­ing for­ward, this puts us in a good spot, but we still have two league games left that we’re not go­ing to take lightly.”

Af­ter Mazzei scored off a cross from Jor­dan Ehart, the Gaels de­fense took over the game. St. Martin was quick to men­tion the play of ju­nior re­serve Alec Fen­ster­ma­cher, who filled in ca­pa­bly for in­jured All-Metro cen­tral de­fender Tyler Collins. Fel­low cen­tral de­fender Brett St. Martin also en­joyed a strong per­for­mance with cen­ter mid­fielder Joe Clark in the mid­dle. Goalie Nick DeShong fin­ished with seven saves and was ex­cep­tional in soggy con­di­tions, grab­bing the last dan­ger­ous ball sent in by the Car­di­nals as time ex­pired.

“They’re a re­ally good team and we’re bat­tling with them for the first and sec­ond seeds, so we thought this game was cru­cial be­cause we want to get a first-round bye, and this was a big win. We did well de­fend­ing their long balls,” Brett St. Martin said.

The steady rain that came in the early part of the first half didn’t de­ter ei­ther team from cre­at­ing scor­ing chances, with the host Car­di­nals hav­ing the bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties.

But Mazzei had the game’s first break­through, fin­ish­ing off a chance in front to give the Gaels a 1-0 lead with 7:26 left un­til the break. Less than a minute be­fore the goal, the Car­di­nals had their best chance when se­nior Brady O’Con­nor flicked a header off a free kick from Chris Car­roll that was just wide of the up­per-left cor­ner. The Car­di­nals pressed in the sec­ond half with Car­roll, O’Con­nor and Ben Alexan­der hav­ing chances to tie the game but un­able to break through.

Go­ing into the week in first place, the Car­di­nals fell to Arch­bishop Cur­ley, 3-1, on Wed­nes­day and couldn’t find an an­swer at home against the Gaels. It leaves the Car­di­nals watch­ing scores be­fore they close out their reg­u­lar sea­son Fri­day against Arch­bishop Spald­ing.

“It’s a long sea­son, and you go through stretches like this when you cre­ate some chances but can’t quite find the net, so we’re go­ing to keep work­ing at it,” Calvert Hall coach Richard Zinkand said.

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