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Curley wears down McDonogh in OT, 2-1

McDonogh executed its game plan for 70 minutes -- score the first goal and then hang on defensively.

In the final 10 minutes, however, visiting Archbishop Curley broke down McDonogh's zone defense and finally tied it on Joseph Toto's goal with 2:18 to play, the first league goal in six games against McDonogh.

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The No. 3-ranked Friars then won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association game, 2-1, early in overtime on a goal by Shawn Houseknecht. It was Curley's first win over No. 4 McDonogh (6-2-1, 5-1) in three years.

It was also the second straight late comeback on the road by Curley (8-0-1, 4-0-1), which tied Loyola on Friday by scoring with five minutes left.

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"We stopped stepping and became tentative," said McDonogh coach Steve Nichols. "You can't play a zone tentatively. We wore out and got nervous. Our youth and inexperience showed."

Houseknecht (eight goals, 10 assists) and Toto combined on both goals, with Houseknecht creating the tying goal by beating a man around the right corner and dropping it off to Toto, who finished with a left-footer from 6 yards.

Toto won a 50-50 ball in the box, and when Houseknecht's defender left him to go to Toto, the former Milford Mill player slotted it to Houseknecht, who hit a left-footer from 8 yards out.

"We played tentative in the first half, and our coach really got into us at halftime," said Houseknecht.

John Ports scored McDonogh's goal in the 18th minute, when he lost his mark and took a perfect pass inside the 18-yard line from Wade McHugh. McDonogh's Adam Mayer missed an easy chance with 3:50 left in the half.

Curley hit a crossbar in the first half and missed three shots in the final 18 minutes with the goal open after Eagles goalkeeper Alex Horwath was caught out. Two of those misses came with 4:30 left and with 3:10 left.

"They got us frustrated," said Curley coach Barry Stitz. "They have a distinct style of play and they execute it. No one else plays the zone like they do."

Curley, which played a 4-4-2 formation most of the game, switched to a 3-4-3 midway through the second half, and the extra forward paid dividends.

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Stitz praised the work of defender Josh Taylor.

"He cleaned up in back for us," he said.

A strong wind was a factor in the game, although the first two goals were scored against it.

"It was a lot easier playing with the wind at your back," said Houseknecht, a junior striker.

"We only started two seniors and were missing our starting forward [Danny Schwartz] and the best junior in the county [Mike Marchiano] with injuries, so I'm happy with our record at this point," said Nichols.


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