One lightning turn-and-tap sequence by striker Jeremy DeGraffenreidt, followed quickly by another, ended with the goal that was enough to push No. 2 Loyola past Calvert Hall in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal Thursday afternoon in Towson.
The University of Louisville-bound senior collected a pass just outside the Cardinals' 18-yard line, tipped it over a defender's head, and quickly repeated the move when another defender arrived.
Once free, DeGraffenreidt settled the ball and slotted it past Calvert Hall junior keeper Matt Brashears for his 15th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead with 13:12 remaining in the first half.
Gavin Barger's penalty kick midway through the second half sealed the 2-0 victory and sent the second-seeded Dons (15-3, 11-2 conference) in search of their first title since 2005 when they meet Gilman in the conference final Sunday at Stevenson University at 5:30 p.m.
DeGraffenreidt said that scoring move, like the one he made, can't be scripted.
"My defender committed, and I tapped it over his head," DeGraffenreidt said. "Then another guy committed, and I did it again. I practice my juggling, but it's just something that happens in the flow of the game."
DeGraffenreidt said he missed a shot earlier in the game, and wanted to make amends.
Regardless, of whether he scored, the Loyola star, who coach Lee Tschantret said is the best offensive player in the league, constantly drew tons of attention from a defense that did well to limit Loyola to just two goals.
To that end, the Cardinals (9-11, 6-9) turned away what looked like a sure goal in the 36th minute when Brashears was off his line making a save and junior Joshua Bender covered for his goalie by making a kick save.
"We had some chances early," Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand said. "But in big games like this, you have to put those away. If you don't, then you're going uphill, and when you're on the road, it makes it even tougher."
He added that losing three times this season to the Dons was no accident.
"They usually space us out a little more than we're used to," Zinkand said. "And then when they get the ball to the endlines, they are very dangerous."
#2 Loyola 2.........................#7 Calvert Hall 0
Goals: L — DeGraffenreidt, Barger. Assists: — none. Saves: CH — Brashears 6; L — Girken 2. Half: L, 1-0.