Schroeder, Hastings boost No. 3 seed Sabres
SSPP 2 — Boys’ Latin 1
EASTON — Saints Peter and Paul High’s boys’ soccer team used an eight-game unbeaten streak to chisel out a spot in this year’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference postseason field.
But closing the regular season with consecutive one-goal losses — including Friday’s 1-0 overtime heartbreaker to Gerstell Academy — knocked the Sabres down a rung in the playoff seedings, and left head coach G.R. Cannon concerned about his team’s collective mindset in a season of high expectations.
“It was such a tough loss,” Cannon said of Friday. “Again, when you put in what I would call it a staple performance. … I mean we did everything right except finish.”
Though he would have preferred a more polished performance, Cannon watched his third-seeded Sabres finish twice Monday afternoon, which proved enough for a 2-1 victory over No. 6 Boys’ Latin in an MIAA B quarterfinal.
Sts. Peter & Paul (12-4-1) advances to play at No. 2 Friends (11-3-2) in a Thursday semifinal.
“I wasn’t concerned about not winning today,” said Cannon after his first postseason victory during his four years as Sabres head coach. “But I was concerned overall. And I think the performance … you could tell it was nervy with the kids. Professionals would be nervy in this situation. So when they’ve had such success (and then) had a slide right at a bad time, now I feel like we might be headed back where we want.
“The nerves are out now,” Cannon said. “We made amends for not being good enough the last two games prior overall, no matter what it was. Come in and put in a gutsy performance and you get a result. I’m very happy; proud of them. I think it’s going to be a really positive injection of energy.”
After losing 3-1 and 6-1 to Sts. Peter & Paul during the regular season, Boys Latin head coach Don Rickels changed his alignment from a 4-5-1 to a 4-3-3.
“The whole idea was to try and prevent their number 10 (Matthew Bailey) from getting the ball and their (numbers) six (Cole Koski) and five (James Hastings) up front,” Rickels said. “So if we can contain 10 and keep an eyeball on six and five, we thought the rest of the game we would have a good chance.”
Play was even through the first 27 minutes, with each team building a handful of chances. The Sabres broke the scoreless stalemate with 12:27 remaining in the first half, when Hastings launched a throw-in from the right side that Koski steered toward Owen Schroeder, whose shot glanced off the right post and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“Just a little deflection,” Koski said of the play. “G.R. told us, ‘Always be on the back post.’ And it just bounced out there to me and I played it back across to Owen and he did what he had to do.”
Boys Latin (6-11) nearly tied it one minute later, when Sabres keeper Nathan Shafer made an initial stop, but couldn’t control the rebound. The Lakers’ Atherton Townsend got to the ball in front of an open net but sent his shot over the crossbar.
The Sabres had two chances to extend their lead in the first half, Koski getting loose on right wing, but fir- ing a grounder that was easily stopped by Lakers keeper Jordan Douglas, and Hastings dropping another long throw-in right in front of the goalmouth that no Sts. Peter and Paul player could reach.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession, and piece together consistent buildups from the midfield, but with 19:07 remaining, back Quinn Chambers carried up left wing and fed Hastings, who struck a shot that Douglas saved, but couldn’t control. A Lakers back went for the ball, but Bailey took it away and passed to Hastings, who with Douglas away from the goal, tapped in an easy score.
“I thought it was a very even game back and forth,” Rickels said. “We gave them three or four opportunities and they finished two of them. Our keeper had the ball in his hand and dropped it for that second goal. And the first goal, we just didn’t step to clear the ball on that set piece. They’re the two glaring mistakes that we made, and they’re too good of a team not to finish.”
Shafer — who made a big stop on a first-half direct kick, and leaped for a sparkling punch-out near the corner of the goal in the second half — and backs Chambers, Eric Peterson, Connor LeMire and Clay Schmidt kept Boys Latin off the board until 2:32 remaining when Dylan Pinsky scored off a corner that pinballed in front of the net before getting knocked in for a 2-1 game.
“We’ve always had a problem with marking up,” Peterson said. “And I guess mentally we just slipped up and it bounced around in there a few times and just got tapped home.
“There’s always more work to do,” Peterson added. “I think right now we’re in a stable position to go train these next few days and do a job on Thursday.”
Though Cannon admitted he wasn’t thrilled with his team’s play, he was beyond happy with the result.
“Anytime you can win in the playoffs, in this conference, it’s obviously a big thing,” said Cannon, whose team held a 16-8 advantage in shots. “It’s playoff time; doesn’t have to be pretty. We didn’t play well, but we got it done. I think the boys know we can do something.”
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Saints Peter and Paul’s Cole Koski, left, gets a step on Garrett Glaeser of Boys’ Latin during Monday’s MIAA B Conference quarterfinal.