For a dead-even matchup, see Calvert Hall against Archbishop Curley in soccer today at Essex Community College.
The 3:15 p.m. game is for the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championship and matches two of the area's most skilled teams.
This could be the most evenly matched title game in the tournament's history.
Second-ranked Calvert Hall is 17-0-1; No. 3 Curley is 17-1.
Division I champ Calvert Hall has outscored its opponents, 60-4, compared with Division II Curley's 59-7. Each team has established a school record for shutouts -- the Cardinals with 14, the Friars with 12. Each teams has been shut out once -- the Cardinals in a scoreless tie with John Carroll, the Friars in a 1-0 loss to New Jersey's Kearney.
And finally, the top scorer from each squad has 24 points -- Curley striker Anthony Celenza (20 goals, four assists) and Calvert Hall striker Jeremy Baker (18, six).
"It's going to be a battle," said Curley coach Pep Perrella, whose Friars are making their second championship appearance since losing, 4-1, to the Cardinals in 1988. "Calvert Hall's strong, and I think we've got our work cut out for us."
Curley was the co-champion with Patterson in 1979 but has reached the semifinals in four of Perrella's six seasons. Since 1979, Calvert Hall has been in every championship game except 1989, when Loyola beat the Cardinals in the semifinals before losing the title game to John Carroll.
Calvert Hall, which also lost the 1984 championship game to Loyola, is trying to win its 16th crown.
"We've been there before, but this one should be a good one," said coach Bill Karpovich, who has a 335-72-23 record at Calvert Hall. "A few of the kids play together on club teams, which makes it interesting."
Curley senior stopper Chris Ivins plays with Calvert Hall's senior trio of striker Todd Perkins (seven goals, four assists), stopper Jason Matthew and sweeper Mike Spath on the club team FC Baltimore.
Like Ivins, Matthew and Spath are defensive players who can be offensive threats. Each has scored once this season.
"I think the backfields match up pretty evenly," said Perrella. "We depend on Ivins controlling the air balls and distributing the ball, with [sweeper] Mike Libber keeping an eye on breakaways."
In addition to Baker and Perkins, senior striker Mike Dempsey (seven goals, seven assists) should test Curley's defense, which includes sophomore fullback Greg Loftus and senior Josh Sutherland. Junior keeper Dennis Merryman came up with some big saves in Friday's 5-2 semifinal victory over Cardinal Gibbons.
"Dennis has had a tremendous year," said Perrella. "He's going to have to have a great game against Calvert Hall."
Cardinals keeper Eric Blunt has handled far fewer balls than Merryman, behind Spath, Matthew, junior fullback Danny Johnson and senior Greg Metrinko.
Curley senior strikers Drew Kowalevicz (eight goals, four assists) and Georgio Szabo (seven, four) complement Celenza. Sophomore striker Steve Ball has four goals, but his 10 assists mean trouble on the wings.
The key for the Cardinals has been the midfield of senior Greg Koukides (eight assists) and juniors Eric Branham (six goals, three assists), Mike Lance (five, three) and Leigh Jocelyn (three, four). It is capable of using ball control or long-ball tactics.
The Friars' transition is geared around senior center midfielder Mike Gizzi (11 goals, five assists), who teams with Ryan Hax, Mike Bailey, Chris Hirt and Bob Schaffer primarily in a short-passing game.