Se­niors lift Calvert Hall to first ti­tle since 2003

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

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.”

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