With just under two minutes to play and his team clinging to a one-goal lead, Calvert Hall junior Timmy Kelly dodged around a couple of Gilman defenders and deftly shot the ball into the corner of the goal.
Kelly swung his arms in jubilation as his teammates erupted on the sidelines. Just one minute earlier, sophomore Michael Fanshaw had given the No. 6 Cardinals their first lead of the second half and they were ready to put a three-game losing streak to conference foes behind them.
Calvert Hall buckled down defensively and forced a turnover to close out the 9-7 victory over the No. 2 Greyhounds on a rain-soaked night in Towson. The Cardinals improved to 11-4 overall and remain in the thick of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference playoff race at 3-3. Gilman fell to 8-5 and 4-2 in the conference and trail top-ranked Boys Latin by two games.
"We played really well tonight," Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. "We've been struggling and we had a tough three-game stretch, so it was an important game for us. Our kids played hard and they practiced hard this week. I was proud of their fight."
Calvert Hall freshman JT Bugliosi and junior Jason Brown also had two goals for the Cardinals. Peter Brown and Andrew Gemma led Gilman with two goals apiece.
With three juniors, two sophomores and four freshman that rotate in the starting lineup, Calvert Hall was up against a much more experienced team in Gilman. Nonetheless, the Cardinals led 5-4 at the half and had not trailed in the game. Gilman, however, came out much more aggressive in the second half and Calvert Hall struggled defending the Greyhounds' counter-attacks.
Brown tied the game for Gilman just two minutes into the third quarter. As the skies opened up for another downpour, the Greyhounds maintained the pressure and goals by Andrew Glick and Gemma less than a minute apart gave them a 7-5 lead midway through the quarter.
"After losing three in a row, we needed one," said Kelly, who finished with two goals and two assists. "This team showed a lot of heart. We've been getting unlucky in a lot of games, but today, we showed what we can do."
The Cardinals picked up the tempo and controlled the early part of the fourth quarter. Brown then pulled them to within a goal with just over seven minutes remaining. Luke Ciccarone then tied the game when he slid just as he shot the ball and found the goal with 3:44 left.
Fanshaw provided the lead 50 second later on a man-advantage goal. Kelly then provided a two-goal cushion with 1:52 remaining and the Cardinals' sideline erupted.
"It was just a good opportunity," Fanshaw said about the goal. "We knew we had to get one. It didn't really matter how long it took us to get one, we just knew we had to get a goal at a time to keep us in it."
The teams spent the opening quarter trading goals and the game was tied three times.
The Cardinals got goals by Ethan Mintzer, Kelly, and Brown. Gilman stayed even on goals from Tyler Ruhl, Gemma and Brown. With the game knotted at three, Bugliosi gave the Cardinals a 4-3 lead with 44.4 seconds left in the opening quarter.
After Bugliosi gave the Cardinals a two-goal cushion just 15 seconds into the second quarter, both teams made adjustments defensively and marked much tighter.
Chase Wittich pulled the Greyhounds to within a goal with a hard shot from 10 yards with 10:47 left in the half. Gilman then dominated possession, but the Cardinals stood strong defensively and held the one-goal lead at the half.
The Cardinals outshot the Greyhounds 16-15 in the opening half.
No. 6 Calvert Hall 9, No. 2 Gilman 7
G-- Brown 2, Gemma 2, Ruhl, Wittich, Glick
C-- Bugliosi 2, Kelly 2, Brown 2, Mintzer, Ciccarone, Fanshaw
G-- Brown, Matthews;
C-- Brown. DeBerry, Kelly 2, Bugliosi
Half: C: 5-4Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun