Calvert Hall goalie Jeremy Blevins helped save the Cardinals' season yesterday.
Blevins repeatedly robbed No. 4 Gilman and finished with 17 saves as No. 7 Calvert Hall avoided falling into a possibly precarious playoff situation by pulling out an 11-7 victory over the host Greyhounds in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game.
The defending conference champion Cardinals (9-3) improved to 4-3 in conference play and remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. The top six teams in the conference make the playoffs, and Calvert Hall was tied for sixth entering the game. A loss could have been devastating, as the team has only three games left. Gilman (10-3, 4-3) now is in a similar situation.
"We would have needed some help if we [lost]," Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said.
The road to the playoffs remains tough, as the Cardinals have home contests against No. 3 St. Paul's (Friday) and No. 12 Mount St. Joseph (Tuesday) before ending the season at top-ranked Loyola next Friday. But this win gives the Cardinals a better shot at postseason play.
Calvert Hall got big games from Jeff Reynolds (three goals, two assists), Kevin Buchanan (one goal, four assists) and Kevin Huntley (three goals). The trio helped the Cardinals take command with a five-goal third quarter that turned a 4-4 tie into a 9-6 Calvert Hall lead.
But Blevins made the major difference. The junior goalie kept the Cardinals close early, especially during a first quarter when clearing was a major adventure, and he kept stopping a Gilman team that repeatedly found good chances.
"We had a lot of opportunities and couldn't capitalize," Gilman coach Dave Allan said. "Their goalie had a good game."
Blevins made six of his saves in that first quarter, helping Calvert Hall take a 3-2 lead despite the Greyhounds keeping possession for much of the period. He made several more tough saves in the second half.
Calvert Hall's top scorer Huntley was slowed by a sprained ankle in the second half and had to be helped off the field after the game.
Gilman controlled the tempo for long stretches but kept hurting itself with turnovers in the box. Goalie Grant Zimmerman finished with six saves overall and had trouble getting on a roll as the Cardinals kept getting high-percentage shots.
Calvert Hall remains in the playoff hunt, and Kelly said he's given his team a clear message about defending their title.
"We're on the ropes now, and they know it," Kelly said. "The only way we're going to get in the playoffs is by winning."