Archbishop Curley players call it The Pound, the Friars' soccer pitch, with its uneven terrain and portions devoid of grass.
"It ain't pretty," said the Friars' striker, Steve Ball. "But we play good soccer here and we're tough to beat on it."
It's a field on which the third-ranked Friars (8-1, 8-0) have won 28 straight games counting yesterday's 3-0 victory over No. 12 Loyola in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game.
In Loyola (6-3-1, 5-2-1), the Friars downed a team whose only losses were against No. 1 Fallston, 2-0, and by 3-2 against No. 4 Calvert Hall after holding a 1-0 lead.
"We might have beaten them by three goals today, but I don't think that's indicative of how well they [Dons] played," said Curley coach Pep Perrella, whose Friars registered three more shots on goal (11) than the Dons.
"They're a good team, but we just played a super game."
Curley remains unbeaten (24-0-1) against Maryland opponents, including 16-0-1 as league champions last year. Its only loss came against St. Benedict's (N.J.) two weeks ago.
But after ousting Calvert Hall, 2-1, last week, the Friars entered the week collectively wondering what they had to do to receive a No. 1 area ranking.
Last year's team ended the year ranked No. 2 behind Centennial, a state runner-up with a 13-2-1 record. Centennial is the area's co-No. 1-ranked team alongside Fallston.
"We don't get any respect, and one of our assistants [Pete Iebner] says it's 'cause of where we're located," said Ball, referring to the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood surrounding Sinclair Lane.
"We were pretty mad about it at first, but we've just concentrated on playing hard."
Yesterday, the Friars took out their frustrations on the visiting Dons, particularly keeper Dom Lattanzi (10 saves), who made several close-range stops.
Curley's defense, anchored by Greg Loftus, withstood an early attack led by Loyola's top scorers, Jason Rickel (six goals, three assists), who stands 6 feet 1 and weighs 200 pounds, and under-17 national team member Mike Potempa.
On three occasions, Curley keeper Brad Bush (eight saves) tipped dangerous shots over the crossbar.
On offense, the Friars, patiently and skillfully maneuvered toward the corners, staying away from sweeper Scott Diggs, who earned All-Metro honors as a lacrosse center midfielder.
"We have incredible size and speed with Scott, who will eat up anything that comes near him," said Loyola coach Jim Claborn. "They did a good job working the ball away from him."
The Friars' initial goal came 13 minutes into the game off a relay from All-Metro midfielder Mike Bailey to Giuliano Celenza, a sophomore who, despite being shadowed by the Dons' Jude Augustin, scored his 12th goal of the season and earned his third assist.
Ball scored the Friars' second goal with 17 minutes left in the game off an assist from Celenza, and later assisted Roberto Angelini's goal with 1:30 remaining.
"They were trying an offside trap on us, which I don't understand because we have so much skill that it just gave us more space," said Ball.
"We just have to keep winning, no matter what other teams do. Then we'll see how things come out in the end."
* Calvert Hall 3, Gilman 0: Deepak Rana (two goals) and Gino Amasia (one) led No. 4 Calvert Hall (9-1-2) past visiting Gilman.