The boys soccer playoffs in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference are set to get underway Monday with quarterfinal round play. Archbishop Curley earned the top seed and Mount Saint Joseph claimed the second seed to get first-round byes and head straight to Thursday's semifinals. In Monday's action, third-seeded Calvert Hall will host sixth-seeded Loyola Blakefield, while fourth-seeded McDonogh hosts fifth-seeded Gilman.

Here's a look at the field with outlooks on Monday's opening games.


No. 1 Archbishop Curley  (18-3-2, 13-2-1)

The league was filled with parity in the early going, but the Friars emerged as the team to beat with a nine-game winning streak entering the playoffs. They are experienced and balanced throughout the lineup, playing a crisp possession game and finishing on their scoring chances during the impressive run. Junior center back Nick Richardson's all-around fine play sets the tone. Midfielder Alejandro Arbelaez (six goals, 10 assists) and forwards Matt Brummet (14 goals, nine assists) and Ben Stitz (nine goals and eight assists) make it hard for defenses to key in on any one player. The Friars will host the Gilman-McDonogh winner on Thursday.

No. 2 Mount Saint Joseph (14-2-2, 12-2-2)

Is the time now for the Gaels? Mostly comprised of underclassmen led by a strong junior class, the Gaels have shown they just may have the goods with a consistent season and particularly impressive stretch to grab the second seed. Mount Saint Joe won its last three league games, starting with a 1-0 statement win at Calvert Hall on Oct. 21 to gain the all-important first-round bye. Junior defenders Tyler Collins and Brett St. Martin and goalie Nick DeShong make it tough on opposing offenses, while Jake Mezzai has a knack for scoring big goals. The Gaels will host the Loyola-Calvert Hall winner on Thursday. They went 2-0 against both teams and didn't allow a goal in any of the four wins.

Monday's quarterfinals

Loyola Blakefield (6-10, 6-10) at No. 3 Calvert Hall (13-4-2, 11-4-1)

Game time: 3:30 p.m.

The Cardinals opened as the area's top-ranked team in The Sun's Top 15 preseason poll, but battled with inconsistent play throughout the campaign to settle for the third seed and play the extra game in the quarterfinals. They remain a dangerous team, but can't overlook the Dons – proof coming in Loyola's 2-1 win in the teams' first meeting on Sept. 21. The Cardinals avenged the loss in a big way on Oct. 21, comfortably handling the Dons in a 5-1 home win. The Cardinals have senior experience and standout players with forward Ben Alexander (21 goals, six assists) the main target up front. Brady O'Connor and Chris Carroll are dynamic playmakers with Seth Walker the glue in back. The Dons won two of their last three to gain the final seed.  Senior defender Nick Battaglia, a four-year varsity player with championship game experience, will be leaned on heavily to keep the otherwise young Dons poised.

No. 8 Gilman (9-6-4, 7-6-3) at No. 5 McDonogh (14-6, 10-6)

Game time: 4 p.m.

The host Eagles come in as defending champions. Despite heavy graduation hits and other key roster losses, they have proven to be a resilient team with quality wins coming against Archbishop Curley and Mount Saint Joseph. The Eagles don't have the same offensive firepower as years' past, but still possess the ball well and look to scratch and claw for goals and wins. Senior midfielder Jared Moses is the catalyst with fellow senior defender Jason Cyrus anchoring the back line. The Greyhounds lean on hard work and an experienced defense led by senior Sam Tirone to bring home wins. The teams split their regular-season games with the Greyhounds winning 2-0 at McDonogh on Sept. 21 before the Eagles won, 2-1, at Gilman on Oct. 21.

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