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John Carroll boys soccer edges Gilman, 3-2, enters postseason as MIAA A’s third seed

The John Carroll boys soccer team will go into next week’s playoffs on a well-deserved high. Midfielder Ryan Skandalis made sure of that Wednesday at Gilman.

The junior captain scored his second goal of the game with 8:51 to play — a clean strike from 18 yards that found the top right corner of the net — to give the No. 6 Patriots a 3-2 road win over the Greyhounds in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.

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John Carroll (13-6-2) wraps up the regular season with a 12-6-2 league record, good for third place. The Patriots will host Concordia Prep, which locked up the sixth seed with a 3-0 win at Archbishop Spalding, in quarterfinal round play Tuesday.

The Greyhounds (9-11, 8-11) went into Wednesday’s game with an outside chance of claiming the sixth and final playoff spot. They played with urgency that the Patriots matched with a strong second-half performance. Skandalis was in the middle of all the success.

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“We were just kicking it around, playing great team soccer after a poor performance in the first half and the ball just kept coming to my feet in and around the 18,” he said. “I had a couple more chances that I could have put away with some more composure, but I got the ones we needed and we got out with the win.”

John Carroll’s Ryan Skandalis (5) prepares a shot as Gilman defenders, from left, Miles Claybour (6), Noah Johnson (3) and goal keeper Ethan Chodnicki get ready.
John Carroll’s Ryan Skandalis (5) prepares a shot as Gilman defenders, from left, Miles Claybour (6), Noah Johnson (3) and goal keeper Ethan Chodnicki get ready. (Amy Davis/Amy Davis)

The Greyhounds, who will close out their regular season against St. Paul’s on Friday, came out fast and were rewarded for the work when senior defender Carter Capodanno put home a free kick from the right edge of the penalty area for the lead six minutes into play.

The Patriots eventually settled into the game and their pressure paid dividends when Eric Schultz finished off an easy chance in front after the Greyhounds had two chances to clear the ball away from danger.

The visitors played with more pace and precision throughout the second half and Skandalis played a big role. He provided a 2-1 lead when he followed up Josh Petty’s shot that hit off the crossbar with 32:46 to play.

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After Capodanno tied the game on a penalty kick less than three minutes later, the Patriots pressed — Gilman goalie Ethan Chodnicki (six saves) made consecutive sparkling saves — before Skandalis saw the ball bounce to him just outside the penalty area.

“When the ball comes out to you like that, the first touch is most important — you have to get it out from underneath your foot to set yourself up for a good shot,” he said. “I’ve blown so many chances that way, but I had the perfect touch, took one more touch to beat the defender and took that one [upper right corner] where I couldn’t have put it nine times out of ten.”

John Carroll closes the regular season having won four of its past five games — a 5-2 win over Loyola Blakefield on Friday proving most pivotal in locking down the third seed.

“I think with the young group that we have, they have progressively gotten better and better throughout the season and I think a lot of that culminated with that Loyola game on Friday where we started putting all the pieces together,” John Carroll coach Jim Fendryk said. “We knew coming in here was going to be tough and they were going to make it difficult. [Gilman coach Jon Seal] had his guys super organized. But we made some slight adjustments at halftime to find more of those pockets of spacing behind their midfield line and thankfully it worked out for us.”

The MIAA playoffs are set with the top two seeds — McDonogh (20-2, 18-2) and Calvert Hall (20-2-1, 17-2-1) — earning a first-round bye. John Carroll and Concordia Prep, a playoff team in its first A Conference season, played to a 2-2 overtime time in the teams’ first regular-season meeting in early September before the Patriots earned a 2-1 overtime win two weeks ago.

Fourth-seeded Archbishop Curley (11-8-1, 11-8-1) will host fifth-seeded Loyola (10-7-2, 10-7-3) in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal.

After opening the season with a 6-1 mark, Gilman had more downs than ups during the home stretch. The Greyhounds will look to close out the season with a win against visiting St. Paul’s on Friday.

Seal said Wednesday’s loss against the Patriots was familiar.

“This has been a microcosm of our season. We have flashes of brilliance and then we concede a soft goal and have a tough time recovering from it,” he said. “Give John Carroll credit — this is why they are in third place. There’s just a narrow margin between that third place team and us being a seventh place team. John Carroll deserved the win today.”

Goals: JC – Skandalis 2, Schultz; G – Capodanno 2

Assists: JC -- Petty

Saves: JC – A. Smith 3; G – Chodnicki 6

Half: 1-1

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