In last season's march to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship, No. 2 Archbishop Curley relied on three key elements to put away opponents - a rugged defense, an opportunistic offense that did not squander scoring chances, and the desire to win every loose ball.
Although the Friars were under pressure for much of yesterday's conference opener at Loyola, they showed much of the same tenacity and scoring prowess for a 3-1 victory. Sophomore forward Mikias Teketele led Curley with two goals and Bash Kamara tallied the other, as the Friars withstood a furious second-half rally by the Dons.
"We got the result, but there was a good part of that game where we got outworked," Curley coach Barry Stitz said. "There are a lot of things we have to work on. The score was not indicative of the way the game was played."
Loyola forward David Butler created several chances for himself in the first 10 minutes of the game, but could not find the net on three of his shots on goal. Curley (3-0) found its rhythm midway through the first half, and Kamara gave the Friars the lead when he knocked in a loose ball between two Loyola defenders from 12 yards out.
The Dons (0-1) continued to attack the Friars by spreading the ball to their outside midfielders. Curley continued to rely on counterattacks and was rewarded again just three minutes into the second half when Kamara and Aaron Beale worked the ball from the sideline to Teketele, who was camped out in front of the net and knocked in a shot off a defender for a 2-0 lead.
"The ball came up to me and I was open. I thought I was offside, but I just took advantage of the opportunity," Teketele said. "Bash and I play balls off one another. We demand the ball."
Loyola cut the score in half in the 48th minute when Butler slotted the ball to Steele Stanwick, who fought off two defenders in front of the goal and scored from 6 yards.
The Dons came close to tying the game several times in the latter part of the second half. A shot by Stanwick was cleared off the line by Friars sweeper Oumar Ballo and a long-range shot by Steve LeVine ricocheted off the far post.
The Friars withstood the rally and Teketele added an insurance goal when he cut the ball back across the penalty area and pushed it just inside the far post for a 3-1 lead.
Loyola coach Lee Tschantret was proud of the way his team kept the defending champions on their heels, but he said he does not put much stock in "moral victories."
"Both teams played well, but I thought we had the lion's share for possession," Tschantret said. "That is the game of soccer. If you don't finish your opportunities, at the end of the day, they come and bite you. You have to give Curley credit. They took advantage of the opportunities they had."