Archbishop Curley coach Pep Perrella said when a goalkeeper plays like Ryan Beaumont of Cardinal Gibbons did yesterday, you need to be perfect to score.
Giuliano Celenza was perfect for Curley. In fact, he was perfect twice, enough for the Friars to clinch the Maryland Scholastic Association Armstrong A Conference Division II regular-season title.
Celenza scored twice, with assists from Mike Bailey both times, including the game-winner on a 10-yard shot in the 74th minute to give No. 4 Archbishop Curley a 2-1 victory over visiting Cardinal Gibbons.
The victory and the title -- the second in a row for Curley (12-0-1, 9-0-1) -- gives the Friars a home-field advantage in the playoffs until later rounds that are played at a neutral site. Gibbons (7-4-1, 6-3-1) put the only blemish on Curley's record with a 1-1 tie when the two last met.
Beaumont (13 saves) frustrated the Friars, especially in the second half, with tough saves. He made one of his best stops in the 73rd minute by blocking a point-blank shot from Celenza.
But the Friars kept coming. Moments later, Bailey got a through ball to Celenza cutting across the box. Celenza put it over a sliding Beaumont, and the ball rolled slowly inside the far post for the winning goal.
"I came across the middle and was calling for the ball," said Celenza. "[Bailey] just touched it to me, and I just put it over [Beaumont's] leg."
Beaumont made all types of saves to keep Cardinal Gibbons (7-4-1, 6-3-1) in the game. He made five saves from point-blank range in the second half.
Much of the time, however, he kept his eyes on Celenza, the Friars' top scorer with 12 goals and seven assists. Beaumont gave Celenza little time to shoot by quickly rushing out when he would get the ball.
"I had to come out as fast as I could," said Beaumont. "He was shooting cannons."
Several Friars were firing away. They finished with 15 shots on goal to only two for Gibbons.
Curley players did not let the repeated missed chances bother them. The Friars simply kept the pressure on, mainly with Celenza, Bailey and Steve Ball.
"We just kept banging," said Bailey.
Cardinal Gibbons banged first, however, as Steve Wojciechowski tapped in a ball from the doorstep after Aaron Coleman's corner kick just 5:09 into the game on the team's first shot.
Bailey (seven goals, five assists) and Celenza connected to tie the game 24:30 into the half. From the left side, Bailey sent a long, curving ball over Beaumont's head and to Celenza on the right. Celenza then headed it inside the far post for a 1-1 tie.
"That was a classic goal," said Perrella.