Once again, the top-ranked Calvert Hall soccer team had its smooth possession game working Friday, which has led to goals coming in bunches throughout the season.
But this game at Archbishop Curley was different for the Cardinals, with the 20th annual Reif Alumni Cup on the line.
It took nearly 60 minutes for a breakthrough against the Friars’ stubborn defense, with Ben Madore opening the scoring with a successful penalty kick. Ryan Belal added an insurance goal to help send the Cardinals home with a 2-0 win and their third straight Reif Cup victory.
Calvert Hall, now 9-0-1 atop the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference standings with 28 points, has a 10-9-1 advantage in the Reif series.
“Honestly, this game is so special,” said Madore, who placed his penalty kick in the right corner to open the scoring with 22:33 left to play. “It’s been going on for so long now and I’m just so happy to win this with my teammates.”
The Friars (4-5) made the Cardinals earn the victory with a united defensive front that was led by senior center back Ricky Schissler and sophomore goalie Joe Yakim.
Sharing time in goal with senior Michael Caulkins, who made three saves in the second half, Yakim made five sensational saves to help keep the game scoreless at the half.
Approaching the midway point of the second half, the Cardinals finally got the all-important first goal after senior back Will Andrus made a strong run down the right side before getting taken down in the penalty area.
The Friars earned a free kick and corner kick in a bid to tie the game, but the Cardinals defense — organized throughout — didn’t budge. Belal, taking a pass from Rocco Pastore, scored from 12 yards to make it 2-0 with 12:13 to play.
The Cardinals, who came into the game with 33 goals in nine games, were able to stay on course to secure the win.
“Kudos to Curley, they absolutely pushed us to the limit today,” Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand said. “We created chances early in the first half and didn’t finish any. We knew it was going to be a tough game, we just had to keep our composure and finally broke through there in the second half.”
Calvert Hall goalie Nate Jones finished with four saves and Zinkand applauded the collective effort from center backs Ben Ramsey and Kyle Haller, who was filling in for starter Josh Nagy. On the flanks, right back Andrus and left back Gabe Glikin were effective at both ends.
Heading back to Calvert Hall with the Reif Cup in tow made for a satisfying Friday.
“It always means a little more when you’re playing over here, and you get the win and get to take the Cup home — the kids really appreciate that,” Zinkand said. “You only get two chances at hardware now and the end of the season.”
After reaching the .500 mark earlier in the week with wins over St. Paul’s and Boys’ Latin — pouring in nine goals in the two wins — the Friars hoped to carry that momentum in Friday’s game. But the Cardinals weren’t having it.
“I think we played hard enough, but I don’t think we played well enough offensively to create enough chances to give us an opportunity to beat a team of this caliber,” Curley coach Barry Stitz said. “Again, we had some chances, but they were the better team today and they deserved to win the game — no doubt about it.
“We’ll get back on the field, train on Monday and it’s about where we are at the end of the year and this shows us where we need to be. So happy with the effort but not really happy with the execution and we know we got to be better.”
Both teams return to league play Wednesday with 4 p.m. home games. Calvert Hall takes on Mount Saint Joseph and Curley meets Concordia Prep.
Goals: CH – Madore, Belal
Assists: CH -- Pastore
Saves: CH – Jones 4; AC – Yakim 5, Caulkins 3