The battle of titans never materialized.
Although McDonogh and DeMatha are considered to be the top boys soccer teams from their respective areas, and both are nationally ranked in a preseason poll, neither played well yesterday in the final of the Fila Classic at McDonogh.
That was especially true for Baltimore's top team, McDonogh, which lost, 1-0, to DeMatha, Washington's best, in the season-opening tournament for both teams.
"I was disappointed with the way we came out in the first half," Eagles coach Steve Nichols said. "We acted like prima donnas. This was the best team on our schedule and they lived off our mistakes. We made too many of them."
The Eagles, ranked No. 17 in the Fox Fab 50 national poll, made two errors on DeMatha's goal.
Defender Colin Barclay passed a ball to DeMatha's Tom Park instead of to one of his own players, and Park quickly sent a through ball to an unguarded Biko Kujifi, who buried a kick in the right corner of the goal in the ninth minute.
Sophomore McDonogh goalkeeper Alex Horwath, who otherwise kept his team in the game, hesitated as he came out to confront Kujifi, Nichols said.
Horwath, a sophomore, saw it a bit differently. "I slotted him and gave him just one space and he found it," said Horwath, who was disappointed with his team's first half. "We didn't come ready to play and they made us pay. We were very lazy in the first half."
McDonogh's top midfielder, All-American Brian Yi, sat out the latter stages of the first half and the beginning of the second half with back spasms. After he returned, he played forward as a target man and created three prime chances.
But on one chance he held the ball too long and was stripped; on another he shot high; and on a third opportunity DeMatha sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Quinn made the save.
DeMatha, ranked No. 10 nationally, dominated the midfield in the first half before Nichols switched to five midfielders in the second half in an effort to gain control. But that change failed.
It was not until Yi went up top and Matt Beckman switched from defense to outside right halfback that McDonogh started to click offensively.
Beckman was sensational at carrying the ball on long runs down the right side, showed a powerful foot on crosses and earned the Eagles several corner kicks.
A shot by Kyle McHugh that went into the goal late in the game was whistled off for a pushing infraction.