Seniors lift Calvert Hall to first title since 2003
A determined group of seniors at Calvert Hall pledged before the season to make sure this would be the Cardinals’ year in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
Fittingly, when the time came to end the program’s 13 years without a soccer championship, team captains Brady O’Connor and Ben Alexander proved up to the challenge.
Down a goal against No. 1 Archbishop Curley in Sunday’s championship game, with the time draining, the two standouts pieced together four brilliant minutes.
Alexanderheadedhomethetyinggoalfrom a long cross by O’Connor with 13:46 to play. With 9:41 to play, O’Connor headed home a long throwbyJamesRosaforthelead. TheNo. 3 Cardinals defended two corner kicks and a couple of chances by Curley in the final moments before a 3-2 victory was secure at Anne Arundel Community College.
Calvert Hall (16-4-2) wins its fifth MIAA A championship since the league was formed and first since 2003. All told, the program has won 32 league titles, its first in 1928. Archbishop Curley, which had won its previous 10 games to earn the top seed, ends with a 19-4-2 mark.
It turned out the season ended up being all about Calvert Hall and its fine senior class. O’Connor returned to the teamafter playing in the U.S. Development Academy in his junior year. Alexander, Chris Carroll, who scored the game’s first goal in the first half, and fellow senior defender Seth Walker won a Youth Soccer National Championship over the summer playing for Pipeline SC club team. Alexander and Carroll considered playing academy ball, but returned to the Cardinals with Sunday night’s quest in mind.
“We all could have played in the academy, but we came back because it’s been 13 years since Calvert Hall has won a championship and we knew this would be our year,” O’Connor said. “It’s great, you just can’t describe it.”
After Carroll’s goal with 14:24 left in the first half, Dylan Poetzel tied the game for Curley with a header off a cross by Tyler Sosnowski with 2:14 to play in the half.
Curley took a 2-1 lead with 31:10 to play when senior midfielder Alejandro Arbelaez recognized Calvert Hall goalie Kyle Cooper was scrambling to get back in net and hit a heavy shot from 40 yards.
Then O’Connor and Alexander stepped up. With the ball on the left side just across midfield, O’Connor sent a perfect ball to Alexander at the far post for the tying header. O’Connor then provided the game-winner with a header of his own in close.
“Once we scored that second goal I knew the third was coming,” O’Connor said. “We battled back and all of our guys we fought to the end and we didn’t give up.”
Said Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand: “I can’t say enough about all our seniors, but Ben Alexander getting that equalizer from Brady and then Brady getting the game winner — I don’t think you could write a better ending for us this season with those two.”
“This is one of the best Curley teams I’ve coached in my 17 years and on and off the field, they did things the right way,” coach Barry Stitz said. “It’s going to sting for a while, but I’m proud of them.”