McDonogh scored a pair of second-half goals and the defense secured its fifth straight shutout as the No. 1-ranked Eagles (5-0) defeated visiting No. 5 Mount St. Joseph, 2-0, Wednesday afternoon in boys soccer.
The match was scoreless at halftime until the Eagles got on board with just under a minute gone in the second half after George Campbell intercepted a pass and dealt it to Kelly Keegan for the 1-0 lead.
They added the second goal under 12 minutes later when Connor Smith’s direct kick into the box pinballed to Momoh ‘Moose’ Eramuse and the Eagle sophomore drilled it home.
“Always right place, right time,” said Eramuse, a center midfielder who was always around the ball keeping the Gael attack from gaining any offensive rhythm.
“He takes off a lot of pressure with the ball and he relieves a lot of pressure off the ball,” McDonogh coach Steve Nichols said.
Eramuse, Scatt MacDonald, Michael DeShields and Duey Senft made life easy for goalie Calvin Livingston, who didn’t face a shot on goal the entire game.
“I thought their back four did a very good job keeping possession of the ball,” said St. Joe coach Mike St. Martin, whose squad dropped to 2-2.
Possessing the ball has been a constant all season for the Eagles.
“This is probably the best possession team I’ve had in my 20 years here,” Nichols said. “We keep the ball 90 to 95 percent of the time, but we’ve got to get more goals out of this.”
McDonogh took 17 shots, but Gael freshman goalie Nick DeShong made seven saves.
“I thought our goalie did an outstanding job and he’s only a freshman,” St. Martin said. “He made some huge saves.”
Defensive co-captains Mike Kramer and Justin Hennen added stellar defense for the Gaels in the first half.
“To St. Joe’s credit, I thought they were really organized, and in the first half they had a couple counters so I told the guys at halftime, to watch the counters and we did a great job of that in the second half,” Nichols said.
St. Joe’s best scoring opportunity came in the second half after Kramer’s ball into the box was touched by Jeremy Shugars to Julian Caparros, but his shot from eight yards out sailed high.
McDonogh had great second-half opportunities from Tunde Akinlosotu, Nick Brown and Campbell, but none found the back of the net and that concerns Nichols.
“We are not finishing our chances, but when you start five or six sophomores every game we’re still young and we are going to make those mistakes,” Nchols said. “If we are going to win it, I think we are going to have to score some of those goals, or it is going to come back to haunt us.”
The Eagles next test will be at home Friday, Sept. 20, against No. 2 ranked Loyola-Blakefield.
“We are looking forward to Loyola,” Eramuse said. “It’s going to be a big game.”