Despite holding a 9-4 halftime advantage against undefeated and No. 1 Boys' Latin on Tuesday, No. 3 Calvert Hall braced itself for the Lakers to make a run.
They did just that, scoring six straight goals to open the second half and emerge with a 12-10 triumph at Johnny Unitas Stadium in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal.
Boys' Latin will play Loyola Blakefield, a 13-4 winner over McDonogh in Tuesday's other semifinal, for the title Friday night at the same site.
The game was played in a similar fashion to last year's semifinal battle when the heavily favored Cardinals — after trailing 6-3 at the intermission — edged the Lakers, 11-10, before beating Loyola for the title in the final.
This time, though, it took a red-hot goalie for the top seeds to prevail. Cornell-bound standout Christian Knight (14 saves) was in top form for the Lakers (19-0), turning the game around when he stuffed Calvert Hall junior attackman Andrew Fanshaw's back-hander from the doorstep with 5:55 left in the third quarter and the Cardinals ( 11-6) ahead, 9-7.
"He ate it up," Boys' Latin senior defenseman Mac Pons said. "I think it hit him right in the stomach."
Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly was also impressed with Knight.
"I thought Christian Knight was the difference in the game," he said. "We had some pretty good shots in the second half, and he saved them."
The first half was a different story as the Cardinals snapped a 3-3 deadlock and scored six of the game's next seven goals to build a big halftime lead.
Senior midfielders Johnny Kelly and Stephen Kelly and senior attackman Jordan Germershausen had a goal each during the run while Fanshaw scored three times.
After the break, the Lakers came to life behind two goals from senior attackman Colin Heacock and junior attackman Shack Stanwick and one by both senior midfielder Michael Lynch and junior midfielder Keegan O'Connor to take a 10-9 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals' only goal over the final 25:19 was by junior attackman Carson Dutkanych to tie the score, 10-10, with 9:45 left in the game.
Heacock notched the go-ahead goal with 6:28 remaining and junior midfielder Tally Bruno added the final goal 90 seconds later.
Even with a late lead, Boys' Latin could take nothing for granted against a rival that was almost of assured of winning faceoffs behind Stephen Kelly. The North Carolina signee claimed a whopping 23 of 26 draws against two Laker rivals to keep his team in the game.
"One of the things I'm happiest about in reaching the finals is that we won't have to face-off against No. 24 (Kelly) anymore. He's a game-changer."
Shriver has some of those on his side, too.
"At halftime, we were getting the crap beaten out of us," he said. "We weren't playing very well. but Calvert Hall had something to do with that. We just were a whole lot more aggressive in the second half. Hey, it's a special league with special teams in it. We're thrilled to be moving on."
Goals: BL-Pridemore 2, Stanwick 3, Moyer, Heacock 3, Lynch, Bruno, O'Connor CH-Fanshaw 3, J. Kelly 2, Germershausen, S. Kelly, Belz, Fritz, Dutkanych
Assists: BL-Lichtenauer, Moyer, Stanwick, Rees CH-T. Kelly 3, Fanshaw, Germershausen, Mintzer
Saves: BL-Knight 14 CH-McSorley 6
Half: CH, 9-4Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun