Energized by an early goal, an electric home crowd and the special trophy that sat between the team benches, the No. 1 Calvert Hall soccer team wasn’t going to be denied against No. 5 Archbishop Curley in Friday night’s 21st edition of the Reif Alumni Cup.
Senior forward Rich Monath scored two goals — including the key first one 12 minutes into play — and the Cardinals rolled to a 4-1 win over the Friars at packed Russo Stadium.
In winning its fourth straight Reif Cup, Calvert Hall (10-0-1) improved to 9-0-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and increased its lead in the series to 11-9-1. The four straight wins is the second-longest stretch in the matchup behind the Friars’ run of five straight from 2010 to 2014.
Six of the Cardinals’ 13 seniors — Monath, midfielders Cody Angelini, Ben Madore and Tyler Flynn and defenders Gabe Glikin and Josh Nagy — were varsity players as freshmen and have been part of four Reif Cup wins.
“This means so much — the history of it, the atmosphere. And there’s so many good players that have played in this,” Monath said. “To win four times is really special.”
Getting an early goal has been a main focus and good habit for the defending MIAA champions this season, and it proved to be the case again Friday.
Angelini sent a ball to the middle that found Monath, who worked his way past a couple defenders and then Friars goalkeeper Joe Yakim in tight quarters before finishing right in front of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
Some of the Cardinals’ best soccer of the season followed, as they zoomed through midfield to create more chances. A few minutes after Madore hit the crossbar on a free kick, the Cardinals made it 2-0 with 17 minutes left in the first half when junior Ryan Belal scored from 14 yards out off a nifty through ball from Angelini.
Five minutes into the second half, Madore finished from 12 yards out off a feed from Flynn to make it 3-0.
The Friars (8-4, 7-3) stayed persistent, however, and were able to get one back when Brady Geho made it 3-1 with 24:20 to play.
But after the visitors had a brief surge — Philippe Oliveira sent in a dangerous cross just a couple minutes later that was punched out of danger by Cardinals senior goalkeeper Nate Jones — Monath tallied his second goal of the game to end any potential suspense.
“Four years in a row is really special and not many guys can say that at Calvert Hall,” Angelini said. “It’s the Reif Cup, our last year and you want to make it special, but now we move on and hopefully we can go on to win the [MIAA] championship.”
The Friars are the latest opponent to see firsthand how little margin for error there is against the Cardinals. Coach Barry Stitz said his team coughed up the ball too much and Calvert Hall was quick to capitalize with its well-executed transition game.
“Our goal coming into the game was not to let them get comfortable and I thought we started off pretty good and created some half chances early on,” Stitz said. “But they scored the early goal as a result of having two or three chances to win a tackle in the box that we didn’t get done. It was kind of an ugly goal they scored, but they got confidence and started to roll after that.”
The teams return to league play Wednesday when Calvert Hall travels to Mount Saint Joseph and Curley hosts Concordia Prep. Both start times are 4 p.m.
Goals: AC -- Geho; CH -- Monath 2, Belal, Madore
Assists: AC -- Landreth; CH -- Angelini 2, Flynn, Ramsey
Saves: AC -- Yakim 6; CH -- Jones 3
Half: CH, 2-0