Coach Steve Nichols of No. 1-ranked McDonogh playfully poked his chubby 10-month-old son, George, in his stroller, moments after his physically overmatched Eagles had escaped with a 4-1 victory over visiting Dulaney in boys soccer.
Nichols probably wishes his players were as sturdy as his strapping baby boy, who doesn't budge as easily as the Eagles did against the 13th-ranked Lions yesterday.
"They're a big, strong team. They knocked us around. The physical part hurt us," said Nichols, whose Eagles (3-1) overcame a scoreless tie at halftime. "We can spread the ball, no problem, because technically this is probably the best team we've had; we just need to be a little tougher in there."
Assisted by Dan Levin, however, McDonogh's All-Metro striker Kaiser Chowhdry (one goal, two assists) broke through for a 1-0 lead. Then McDonogh keeper Joe Pietropalli (five saves) withstood an offensive surge, after which teammate Zak Johns buried the game-winning pass from Jed Prossner for a 2-1 lead.
"We were still kind of shaken up, I guess, coming off the loss [4-3] to Whitman on Saturday," said Chowhdry, who, in accordance with team rules, did not start after missing the previous night's practice because of a recruiting visit. "We didn't get going early, and they were able to play with us for a while."
McDonogh did get rolling, however, with assists on all four goals. Jon Nelson and Sean Murphy also tallied for McDonogh - the latter with under 10 seconds to play.
Dulaney kept pace despite being outshot 23-6, thanks primarily to an excellent game by keeper Nick Warner (19 saves), and Eric Frey made it 1-all off a corner kick.
Dulaney appeared to have taken a 2-1 lead when Jay Sasiadek scored on a through ball, but Sasiadek was ruled offside.
"Tied, zero-zero at halftime, we're thinking we could still win," said midfielder, Bryant Will, who missed the near post with a shot off his chest in the second half. "We stayed with them for a while, but the ball just didn't roll our way. They finished, we didn't."
The Lions (1-1), who tied Churchill, 1-1, for last fall's 4A state title, had struggled similarly in their season-opening 1-0 shutout of Westminster before Sean Rush assisted Eric Frey's game-winner midway through the first half.
"They're a very sound team that brought all of their action through the midfield. Against a team that is as good as they are, technically you can't afford to give up the backside goals like we did," said Dulaney coach Steve Shaw. "We probably did a lot more reacting to what they did than we should have. But this was a good opportunity for us to see where we are early in the season."