Injuries have forced McDonogh boys soccer coach Brandon Quaranta to alter his lineup this season, but Friday afternoon his No. 6 Eagles overcame all obstacles, earning a 2-0 victory at Mount Saint Joseph.
Sophomore Blake Lloyd opened the scoring midway through the first half when he deposited a pass from Seth Malek from 33 yards to the far left corner of the net from the opposite side of the field.
“Right after I hit it, I looked back and it was going in, so I was happy about that,” Lloyd said. “That was where I was aiming, but it was better than I expected.”
It came after the Gaels controlled the time of possession early.
“In the beginning, I thought we had a good bit of the play,” Mount Saint Joseph coach Mike St. Martin said. “We were pretty much all over in the beginning and then that was really their first opportunity that they scored on, and it was a clearance that happened to just bounce to one of their guys and he laid it back and they hit a good shot.”
Quaranta was happy to see Lloyd take advantage of an opportunity to go forward.
“Blake is a fantastic player, he could literally be one of the best sophomores in the league at just about any position,” Quaranta said. “We’ve asked him to do a lot more defending this year because of the guys we are missing. So, he’s had to play deeper on the field for us which is a shame for him because he does have the ability to score goals.”
The Eagles (6-7-1) missed two golden opportunities in the next minute to extend the lead. Kobe Keomany had a one-on-one chance stopped by keeper Matthew Holsey and later had another hard shot turned aside by Holsey.
The Gaels (4-9-1) nearly tied the score after a corner kick by Shan Chung was redirected by Jeremy Abrams and saved by Jason Broome.
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Near the end of the half, McDonogh got a boost when Emmett Kershner hustled forward on a long pass and drew a penalty on the keeper in the box.
“It was good to have Emmett Kershner back, that’s his first appearance of the year coming off injury,” Quaranta said. “It’s really, really good to have him back and you can see in plays like that how much he impacts our game.”
Keomany drilled the penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
The Gaels had three solid scoring chances to cut into the lead in the second half. Lorenzo Cruz’s shot from 20 yards was corralled by Broome, another shot hit the post and a strike by Oliver Jefferson deflected off a defender right to Broome.
“We had opportunities inside the box in the first half with balls bouncing around and we don’t put it away and same thing down here [in the second half], ball’s going in and keeper makes one save to his left,” St. Martin said. “We’ve been playing good soccer and getting balls to the final third, but we just haven’t been able to put it away.”
Quartanta was just happy to earn a tough victory on the road despite several nagging injuries.
“To come on the road against St. Joe, it’s always a tough place to play and to leave here with three points we’ve got to be excited about that,” he said.