Fri­ars strike first, main­tain at­tack

3 con­sec­u­tive first-half goals help Cur­ley earn bye, head to semis on a 9-game win streak

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Glenn Gra­ham glenn.gra­ham@balt­ twit­­nGra­hamSun

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.

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