With a banged-up offense not playing at full speed, the No. 3 McDonogh boys soccer team has leaned on its defense.
At No. 2 Archbishop Curley yesterday, senior sweeper Jake Levin & Co. were up to the challenge.
Opportunistic on offense early in the game and organized and sturdy throughout on defense, the Eagles claimed a 2-1 win in a rematch of last year's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.
McDonogh, playing without All-Metro forward Chris Agorsor, improved to 11-1-2 overall and 5-1-2 in the league; the Friars fell to 12-2 and 5-2.
The Eagles got all the scoring they needed in the game's first 25 minutes when All-Metro senior Andrew Bulls put home a penalty kick in the 11th minute, and Jeremy Kirkwood headed home a ball sent in by Julian Griggs later in the half.
Curley made it close with a second-half penalty kick from Bash Kamara. But everything else the Friars sent forward was promptly sent back, mostly by Levin.
"It was a phenomenal effort -- our entire team really stepped up," Levin said. "Our whole team can step up if the ball comes their way, but I'm trying to fly to the ball and set an example as a team captain. You've got to want the ball. I want those balls in the air and the ground -- I want it to come to me."
With Agorsor still out for at least one more week with a hip injury and Bulls hampered by a hamstring strain, McDonogh coach Steve Nichols has received more from Levin.
"I thought it was a good game, hard-played," Curley coach Barry Stitz said. "I think the difference was we made one more mistake than them, and at the end of the day that's the only thing that separated the two teams."
No. 11 Towson 2, Catonsville 1 -- After allowing a goal to the visiting Comets eight minutes into the game, the Generals began to dominate play, but Towson coach Randy Dase still worried that it was going to be one of days on which his team simply could not find the net. However, a 30-yard blast by Logan Hall and close-range follow by Drew Bracken were all the Generals to needed to rally for a victory. Towson also handed Catonsville its first loss of the season after the Comets won six straight. "When you give up an early goal like that, it is like crawling uphill on a snowy day," Dase said. "I am tickled with our effort today. We also had to gut it out against Perry Hall earlier this week for a 1-0 win on a hot, humid day. Our defense played tough." Towson (6-1 overall, 5-0 Baltimore County) took the lead three minutes into the second half when Bracken charged the goal and was able to knock in a rebound off a shot by Wils Alpern.