After all three foursomes had passed through the first six holes of yesterday's golf match between St. Paul's and Calvert Hall, Crusaders coach Rick Collins looked over at his wife and pretended to bite his fingernails.
It was that kind of match between the two undefeated Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Division teams, and it came down to the final foursome's final hole. And for the first time since the 1998 season, Collins and St. Paul's walked away with a loss.
Calvert Hall junior Justin Woodward's clutch par on the 339-yard par-4 18th clinched the match for the Cardinals, 11 1/2 to 9 1/2, at the Country Club of Maryland in Towson.
"We were looking forward to this match all year," said Calvert Hall senior and No. 2 golfer Greg Talbot, who picked up three points for the Cardinals by shooting even par. "It's all we've been thinking about for the last two weeks."
Calvert Hall's victory snapped the Crusaders' streak of 25 matches without a loss, including all of last season. But it wasn't easy.
In MIAA team match play, the six players on each squad divide into foursomes, with the Nos. 1 and 2 players in one group, the Nos. 3 and 4 players in another, and the Nos. 5 and 6 players in another. Each player engages in match play for 12 holes and can earn up to three points based on the results of the first six holes, the results of the second six holes and the total results over all 12 holes.
An additional "team point" is available in each foursome, based on best ball match play for the total 12 holes. Yesterday, the players played holes 1-11 and 18 at the Country Club, the Cardinals' home course.
With the first two foursomes finished and the Nos. 5 and 6 players on the 18th tee, the score was tied 7-7. St. Paul's No. 5 golfer Mark Quick had already wrapped up 2 1/2 points in his match with Mike Kessler, but the team point and Woodward's match with Bill Little were still in doubt.
After an errant drive into a flower box on the left side of the fairway, Little made a nice recovery shot that put him about 20 yards away from the green. But Woodward then hit the shot of the match. After his drive, from 100 yards out, he delivered a sand wedge to five feet.
Little failed to get up and down, and Woodward two-putted to clinch three points, the team point and the victory.
"That was a clutch shot for them on [No.] 18," Collins said. "It was all tied going into the last group. They made the shots and we didn't."
In addition to Woodward, the Cardinals received standout performances from Talbot and their No. 4 player Josh Prokopik, who picked up 3 and 2 1/2 points respectively, in their matches. Talbot sank a tricky 15-foot downhill putt on 18 to secure the team point for Calvert in the first foursome.