Friars strike first, maintain attack
3 consecutive first-half goals help Curley earn bye, head to semis on a 9-game win streak
The top-ranked Archbishop Curley soccer team was convincing at Gilman on Friday in wrapping up first place in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, dominating the No. 6 Greyhounds, 4-1, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Connecting passes and finishing chances early, the Friars (18-3-2, 13-2-1) scored three straight goals in the first half to set the tone.
Curley earns a first-round bye in next week’s playoffs, heading to Thursday’s semifinals on a nine-game winning streak. Gilman (9-6-4, 7-6-3) finishes in fifth place and will travel to fourth-seeded and No. 5 McDonogh for a quarterfinal Monday.
After hitting the post twice and having one shot cleared from the goal line by a Greyhounds defender, the Friars maintained their attack to take hold of the game. Senior forward Matt Brummet scored the first two goals and added an assist in the second half.
In clinching the top spot, the Friars went 3-0 this week, twice beating Gilman and also knocking off John Carroll. They scored 12 goals and didn’t surrender one until the Greyhounds scored in the closing minutes Friday.
“It’s looking real good. We’re moving the ball around well, we’re finishing chances and I think that comes from confidence,” Brummet said. “We’ve been up 2-0 [early] in the past two games and the momentum is carrying on throughout the game. It’s giving all the guys a lot of confidence.”
In Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Gilman, the Friars didn’t finish chances in the first half, so the priority was to change that Friday. They certainly did. Brummet opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a half-volley to the near post off a feed by Tommy Sidleck from the right side. With 15:52 left in the half, Brummet rebounded his shot and scored to make it 2-0. Senior midfielder Alejandro Arbelaez found the lower right corner with a left-footed shot from 14 yards after Corey Burton sent a short pass across the middle to push the lead to 3-0 with 7:57 left in the half.
“For the last week, I’ve been telling the guys we’re on a good run, that I think we’re playing our best soccer of the year and that’s important,” Curley coach Barry Stitz said. “We don’t want to take a game off and get complacent because there’s no on and off switch in this game. So I think we’re going into the playoffs playing well. Obviously anything can happen — you’re playing a top four team in the league — but I’d rather be where we are now with the winning streak than backing into things.”
The Greyhounds, who were locked into the fifth seed going into the game, have a quick turnaround with their playoff opener tentatively set for 4 p.m. Monday at McDonogh. The teams split their two regular-season games, with the Greyhounds winning 2-0 at McDonogh on Sept. 21 before the Eagles claimed a 2-1 road win Oct. 21.
“This group is resilient — we have 16 seniors — and they’re emotional right now because it was Senior Day and they didn’t play their best. But we got two days to mentally and physically recover and prepare for McDonogh on Monday. We’ll be fine,” Gilman coach Jon Seal said.