Archbishop Curley's Barry Stitz and Calvert Hall's Rich Zinkand remember competing against one another as players in the long, storied soccer rivalry between the schools, spanning more than 40 years and at least a half dozen conference championship games.
While Stitz is now in his 13th year as head coach at No. 3 Curley, Zinkand is in his first at No. 9 Calvert Hall, and the two met Friday night in the 11th annual Bernard Reif Cup.
The visiting Friars avenged a loss to the Cardinals earlier in the week with a thrilling 1-0 victory on a goal by Kyle Mizell with less than a minute remaining in front of approximately 2,000 at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium. With the victory, the Friars took over first place by virtue of a tiebreaker with No. 2 Loyola in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
"It was a great environment, and I think both teams were pretty charged up," said Stitz, who was also teammates with Zinkand at Towson State under coach Frank Olszewski. "One of our guys stepped up and made a big play at the end. They're a good team and they have some key players down the middle of the field, similar to how we are. In this league, nobody wants to play that team if they finish fifth or sixth in the league. It's real important to have that [first-round playoff] bye."
The Cardinals (7-8-1, 4-7-1) are in fifth place and are still in position for one of the final playoff spots with two games remaining. Calvert Hall pushed the play in the first half and created several chances on set pieces. The Friars, however, were able to clear away those chances and were dangerous with their counter attacks, but the score remained scoreless at the end of the first half.
The Friars (12-3-2, 8-2-2) were in control early in the second half and nearly took the lead when freshman Tre Pulliam got behind his defender, collected a ball just inside the penalty area but sent his shot directly at Cardinals goalkeeper Matthew Brashears (six saves). Curley's Eric Spalt then hit the crossbar with 25 minutes remaining.
Zach Rutherford had Calvert Hall's best chance with 13 minutes remaining when his free kick from about 35 yards was just pushed over the crossbar by Friars goalkeeper Jake Ossie (five saves). The game appeared to be headed to overtime before Mike Sauers slotted the ball off a corner kick to Mizell, who one-timed the ball inside the near post for the winner.
"It was a good corner kick by Mike Sauers, a low-driven ball," Mizell said. "I just beat my man right to it. This is a big win because they beat us in our place, so it was good to come back here with a lot of people and get the win."
The game honors Reif, a former Curley coach, whose son Chris was an All-America soccer player at Calvert Hall and the University of Connecticut. The annual series is now tied at 5-5-1. The teams played to a scoreless tie in 2003. Curley has won the past three Cups.
"The big thing is to get in the playoffs and go from there," Zinkand said. "This is my first year back in the high school game and it's exciting. Every game is a dog fight. This was a once in a lifetime experience for some of these guys playing in front of this many people. It's a great rivalry between two great schools."
No. 3 Curley 1, No. 9 Calvert Hall 0
Saves: AC- Ossie 5; CH- Brashears 6