McDonogh and Curley draw as battle for MIAA playoff position intensifies

For The Baltimore Sun

With his team trailing No. 2 McDonogh by a goal in the final two minutes of regulation, No. 3 Archbishop Curley's Mike Sauers hit a masterful free kick into the top corner of the goal to send the game into overtime.

The two teams then traded chances in the two extra periods before settling for a 1-1 tie in an important Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference matchup in Owings Mills. The teams are jockeying with top-ranked Loyola and No. 5 Gilman for home field advantage in the playoffs, so the stakes have become increasingly higher heading into the final stretch of the season.

"It was the last two minutes, so I had to do something," said Sauers, who will play at Maryland next season. "We were working hard the whole game. It wasn't coming for us, so I had to do something. I struck it well."

The Eagles (8-1-3 overall, 5-1-3 MIAA), who were looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Loyola on Saturday, had their top playmaker George Campbell in the starting lineup after he was hampered for the past several games with a knee injury. His presence made a difference, as he set up a counterattack that led to a go-ahead goal by Aquinas Akinlosotu with 40 seconds left in the first half.

"We were on the break and I shot it near post," Akinlosotu. said. "We got really tired so we fell off at the end. But we still had our chances."

The Friars (11-2-1, 6-1-1) regrouped after halftime and picked up the pressure on the Eagles. However, McDonogh's defense, which has given up just three goals all season, was effective in clearing chances and goalie Matt Sanchez came up with several big saves.

The Friars finally got a break when they were given a free kick from about 30 yards. Sauers took about five steps and pushed the ball around the wall of defenders and past Sanchez, who had little chance at making a save.

"I thought it was a great effort," Curley coach Barry Stitz said. "I wasn't real pleased with the first half. But we played better in the second half. We still didn't generate as many chances on goal as I would have liked. After we scored the goal, we were the team pushing the play in the two overtimes. I like the way our guys responded."

No. 2 McDonogh 1, No. 3 Archbishop Curley 1 (OT)

Goals: C- Sauers; M-Akinlosotu. Assists: M-Campbell. Saves: C-Ossie 6; M-Sanchez 6. Half M:1-0

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