The Loyola Blakefield soccer team got its first significant dose of adversity this season at rival Archbishop Curley on Friday.
Protecting a one-goal lead with 26 minutes left in the second half, the No. 3 Dons found themselves down a player after a red-card violation.
How did they respond?
Senior midfielder Chase Webert scored two minutes later and then after the Friars got within one again, they stayed on course.
The Dons didn’t buckle, attacking when given the opportunity and defended well when called on to secure a 2-1 win over the No. 5 Friars.
Loyola is 3-0 overall and with an opening road win against Calvert Hall to start the week and improved to 2-0 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
A lot can be learned about a team when put in trying situations. Loyola Blakefield coach Lee Tschantret was impressed with what he saw from his Dons in closing Friday’s win to cap a fine opening week.
“Our guys worked hard. We continued to play our style even though we were a man down and we absorbed a lot of pressure late,” he said. “Any time you can get a road win in this league is big, and to get two against these type of opponents – both will be battling for a title – so it’s huge. It’s huge to get three points.”
The Dons, coming into the season with more experienced talent than the Friars, showed it most of the way on Friday.
They capitalized on an early chance when Chase Llewellyn reached a ball sent ahead by Massimo Tshcantret on the left. Llewellyn placed a shot from 15 yards just inside the far post for a 1-0 advantage in the eighth minute.
Both teams created scoring chances but the score was still the same when Llewellyn was sent off for foul language with 26:42 to play.
Instead of dropping more players back to protect the lead, the Dons kept attacking and Webert scored what turned out to be the winning goal when he cleaned up a chance in front off a free kick sent in by Dominic Caltabiano.
“We just knew if we got one it would be so important after the red card to keep us in the game,” Webert said.
The Friars, who have struggled to score in the early season, broke through when Dylan Sloan scored with 16:55 to play to cut the lead to 2-1.
Curley goalkeeper Michael Caulkin made a stellar save on Nathaniel Comi’s shot from 8 yards to keep the deficit at one with 11 minutes to play. The Friars then had a dangerous corner kick cleared away and a shot by Justin Karas easily handled by Loyola goalie Pat Milmoe.
Curley coach Barry Stitz, whose Friars were upset by Archbishop Spalding, 1-0, earluer in the week, thought his team had their best performance so far. After losing a significant graduation class that did much of the scoring, they are looking for a taste of success to build confidence.
“The coaches can continually tell the guys they’re a good team, but ultimately confidence comes from results and we’ve got to go out and win one of these tight games,” he said. “Guys that aren’t finishing got to go out and finish. Once we make the plays they’ll get the confidence and things will click. We’re coming along.”
3 Loyola Blakefield 2, Archbishop Curley 1
Goals: LB – Llewellyn, Webert; C --Sloan. Assists: LB – Tschantret, Caltabiano; C – Martinez-Herrero. Saves: LB – Milmoe 4; C – Caulkins 7. Half: LB, 1-0