Calvert Hall goalie Kevin Doyle was up to his old tricks against archrival Loyola Blakefield in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association water polo championship match on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The senior scored as time ran out in the first half of what turned out to a 12-8 victory for the Cardinals.
The last time he did that against Loyola was in the Eastern Prep School championship last year, sinking the Dons in a sudden-death thriller.
Doyle is more than offensive threat, however. His 19 saves — including one on senior Taylor Bernhardt's penalty shot — were also instrumental in the victory over the Dons.
And Doyle had an extra incentive to excel, considering he is still feeling the pain of losing his grandfather, longtime Calvert Hall educator and swimming coach George Kropp, who died Oct. 6
"George was the driving force behind water polo becoming a varsity sport," Calvert Hall coach Mark Rich said.
On Nov 2, Doyle and the Cardinals will attempt to defend their title against Loyola, Lawrenceville, Gonzaga, Malvern Prep, Penn Charter and others at the Naval Academy.
Winning the MIAA for the 10th time in 14 years, though, made the Cardinals' season after suffering their only loss to a local team this fall when Loyola prevailed, 17-15, in the Dons' home pool.
Earlier in the season, Calvert Hall beat Loyola by a two-goal margin, making the title match a tie-breaker — at least until the Eastern Prep tourney.
In the MIAA final, the Cardinals did not put the game away until the second half. But once the lead blossomed to three goals, they packed it in and forced the Dons to beat them from the outside.
Seniors Timmy McGown and Paul Monaghan notched four goals each for Calvert Hall. McGown added a pair of assists.
Bernhardt paced the Dons with three goals while senior J.P. Clancy and junior Zach Hoelting pitched in with a pair of goals each.
Seniors Sheppard Warren and Jay Pagano did the heavy lifting on the defensive end of the pool for the Cardinals.
Even so, Doyle is the probably the champs' most valuable player because of his ability to cover so much territory while guarding the net.
"He's tall with a huge wingspan," Loyola coach Keith Schertle said about Doyle. "But he's more than that. A lot of guys are tall, but he's tall and very good. Maybe because of his grandfather, he really wanted it — and he got it. He was superb."
The Cardinals knocked off defending MIAA champ McDonogh in a semifinal, 6-4, although the Eagles put up a much better fight than anticipated after Calvert Hall clobbered them, 17-2, in league play. It took 12 saves from Doyle to get the job done.
The Dons advanced to the final by beating Mount St. Joseph.
"We hope we can face them again," Schertle said about the Cardinals. "We'd like another chance. We are pretty confident about our chances."