There were at least two reasons host Calvert Hall was supposed to lose yesterday's regular-season finale to Archbishop Curley.
No. 1 -- the weather. The Cardinals hadn't won any of their four previous games in the rain, and the forecast called for storms all afternoon. And, No. 2 -- incentive. While Calvert Hall already had clinched third place in the league, the Friars needed the win to have any chance at first.
It all sounded good in theory, but the sixth-ranked Cardinals threw theory out the window with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the fourth-ranked Friars, as Nick Chavis scored the game-winner with 5:16 left and the rains held off until literally seconds after the final whistle.
With two unanswered goals in the final 15:27, Calvert Hall (12-4-1 overall, 9-4-1 in the league) assured itself a rematch with Curley (10-3-1, 10-3-1) in Wednesday's opening round of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
"This just proved to us that we can beat anybody," said Chavis. "It gives us momentum heading into the playoffs."
After getting outplayed in the first half and falling behind, 1-0, on a goal by the Friars All-Metro striker Giulliano Celenza, the Cardinals came to life after halftime.
They began winning balls that they had lost earlier in the game, and outshot the Friars, 8-3.
"We just had to get ourselves together and play like we knew we could," said Calvert Hall's Mike Schaeffer. "Our coach told us just to step up and start playing offense."
Schaeffer tied the game midway through the half, taking a pass from Chavis and scoring on a high bullet just over the reach of goalie Brad Bush.
The game-winner came minutes later, as a Calvert Hall shot ricocheted off a defender and bounced to Chavis on the right side, who put it in from 15 yards out.
"We had a little letdown," said Curley coach Pep Perrella, whose team had played to scoreless ties with the Cardinals in each of its last two meetings. "We got the goal in the first half and we thought one goal would win it."
The Friars will get one more chance to prove their theory. With the tournament's second seed, they will play host to third-seeded Calvert Hall, the defending tournament champion.
Though the victory didn't affect the Cardinals' seeding, coach Bill Karpovich said it may have accomplished even more.
"I think the kids realized that they can play with them," said Karpovich. "They may have Celenza, but they've got 11 guys out there, not just one. We think we match up with them pretty well."