Water polo: Calvert Hall takes MIAA title from archrival Loyola

Despite a stifling performance by Loyola Blakefield's defense, archrival Calvert Hall did the Dons one better β€” one goal better, that is β€” by taking a taut 5-4 victory in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship match on Saturday afternoon in front of a raucous crowd at McDonogh.

The win snapped Loyola's two-year MIAA reign that interrupted Calvert Hall's nine-year stranglehold on the title.

Both teams struggled to score in the highly charged atmosphere with top-notch goalies Colin McGrath (Loyola) and Ben Wiese (Calvert Hall) keeping the score down and the tension high.

The second-seeded Dons (16-5, 6-4 MIAA) took a 3-1 advantage late in the first half on successive goals by Kendrick McDonald before senior Steven Roberts answered twice for the Cardinals (19-1, 10-0).

Loyola inched ahead, 4-3, on Taylor Berhardt's backhander with 7:42 remaining in the third quarter until Roberts rifled a shot just inside the near post for the equalizer 63 seconds later.

With :03 left in the period, McGrath denied Roberts' bid to take the lead after the Calvert Hall star rocketed a shot off the crossbar moments earlier.

In the back-and-forth final period, the top seeds notched the goal they needed when senior Carpenter Warren found classmate Jack Pagano for a one-timer and a 5-4 lead.

Still, Loyola pressed forward and seemed to be in a good position to score after Roberts fouled out and was replaced by junior Pat Burke with three minutes to go.

When Wiese was momentarily sent away from the goal β€” shortly after his best save of the match β€”for an infraction as well, mayhem ensued as the Dons missed wide on a short shot that allowed Calvert Hall to regain possession with 46 seconds left and the fans in a frenzy.

When the Cardinals purposefully ran out the shot clock, Loyola's plans for taking a final shot in the final 11 seconds were thwarted by senior Eric Park's key steal.

"It was last-ditch time for Loyola," the defensive specialist said. "I saw an opportunity and I took it."

Calvert Hall coach Mark Rich heaped praise on McGrath for shutting out his most lethal weapon.

"Carpenter average five or six goal per game," he said. "Their goalie did a great job."

Loyola coach Keith Schertle said the short rest between a 6-1 win over McDonogh in a semifinal contributed to the loss. Calvert Hall topped Mount St. Joseph, 14-7, in the other side of the bracket.

"When you play defense like we do, it takes a lot out of you," he said. "I just would have liked a little more offense."

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