Little to nothing separated McDonogh and Calvert Hall on the soccer field all season and that didn’t change through regulation of Sunday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game at Anne Arundel Community College.
In the opening minute of the second overtime period, fittingly, special work declared the champion.
Calvert Hall senior midfielder David Peters started it with a fierce, 20-yard run with the ball down the left side before sending it forward to Rich Monath. He maintained the space down the same side to get inside the penalty area and then neatly placed a firm shot from 14 yards to the lower far corner.
The No. 2 Cardinals collectively erupted, earning a 2-1 double-overtime win over the top-ranked Eagles to bring home the program’s fifth MIAA A crown and first since 2016.
Calvert Hall finishes 22-2-1, while the Eagles end with a 21-3 mark. The teams split two regular-season games before Calvert Hall captured the most important one of all on Sunday. All three games were decided by one goal.
“Just a great high school soccer game — I don’t know if it can get any better. The two top teams in the state and who knows, maybe even beyond that. Just an epic battle tonight,” said Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand. “McDonogh played a great game and I think we just had a little more desire there at the end. David Peters made a run of about 30 yards with the ball and Rich finished it off.”
The Cardinals, possessing the ball with their patented quick passes, took a 1-0 lead when Monath put away a rebound in the 13th minute.
It left a lot of time for them to protect the advantage, and the Eagles made a considerable push throughout the second half before tying the game midway through when senior star Jacob Murrell scored on a penalty kick after the Cardinals were called for a handball in the area.
With the momentum switching to McDonogh, the Cardinals held them off and were able to regroup in overtime.
They had the better of play in the first 10-minute period, but the Eagles had the best chance to break through when Murrell sent a ball to the far post that Trevor Grodsky just missed on from in close with 2:55 left.
At the start of the second overtime, Peters and Monath made the difference with the goal coming 22 seconds in.
“It was a hard-fought game the whole way,” said Monath. “We knew in the second overtime, we had to come out with energy right away. We countered right away. David dribbled through three guys and played me through and I just finished it. It’s just a crazy feeling because we haven’t won it in a while.
The teams reached the title game with similar success done differently. Murrell, who finished with a staggering 41 goals and 20 assists, carried a largely young and inexperienced team throughout the season, while the Cardinals had eight players with five or more goals.
Calvert Hall senior defender Will Andrus, who played a strong game on the right side to cap a fine season and career, summed up the 2021 Cardinals special bond: “I’ve grown up playing with these kids since I was 5 years old, so we’re all lifelong best friends. It’s just a great group to win a championship with, especially in my senior year. It’s amazing.”
McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta was quick to credit the Cardinals, who earned the championship by making the season’s final big play.
“It was a great individual goal to win the game, so hats off to them. They’re a great team and they had a fantastic year, he said. “Today was always going to be who made that last play and I thought either Jacob for us or one of their guys to win. Rich made a great play on that to get them the win. It’s well deserved.”
He said Murrell’s incredible season — the Georgetown commit was in on nearly 80% of the Eagles’ 79 goals — will long be remembered.
“I’m not sure I have the words to properly describe his season,” Quaranta said. “It’s obviously one of the greatest in our league history, which is saying something in such a storied league. It was an inexperienced team around him, so to generate those kinds of numbers in that sort of season says even more. It’s remarkable. I don’t know where our team is without him, and that’s not just his goals and assists, which were phenomenal, but his leadership and character.”
Goals: CH — Monath 2; M — Murrell
Assists: CH — Peters
Saves: CH — Jones 5; M — Anderson 4
Halftime: 1-0, Calvert Hall