Frantically scrambling to get the ball placed for one final desperation free kick from 40-plus yards, Archbishop Curley midfielder Dominic Bourgeois was able to get a shot on goal that McDonogh goalkeeper Will Anderson alertly tipped over the crossbar as the final seconds expired.
It was the last of a number of big plays in Thursday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal that saw the No. 1 Eagles, time and again, fend off the No. 8 Friars in a thrilling 3-2 win in Owings Mills.
McDonogh, behind a two-goal performance from senior Jacob Murrell and a game winner from fellow senior Ethan Glaser, improves to 21-2 in advancing to Sunday’s MIAA title game.
The Eagles, who have won the last three league titles and 11 overall, will meet the No. 2 Calvert Hall-No. 4 John Carroll semifinal winner at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Anne Arundel Community College.
With just under 10 minutes left in the second half — five minutes after the Friars tied the game at 2 — Glaser shed a defender to win space on the left side. He then saw Curley goalkeeper Joe Yakim come out to challenge him and chipped a shot from 14 yards into the far corner. The Eagles defense protected the lead well with Anderson securing the win with the last-second save his sixth of the game.
“The whole season I’ve been [trying to chip balls] and keep missing. But I saw the keeper come out and I figured you know what, I might as well try it again and it paid off this time,” said Glaser, who has seven goals and six assists this season. “It feels great obviously, big moments in a game like this and I can’t thank my team enough … It feels amazing and I have no other words.”
The Friars (12-9-1) came into the game on a high note after a 3-2 overtime win against Loyola Blakefield in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, but, like many other games this season, found themselves coming from behind. On Thursday, they were down a goal on two occasions with Murrell scoring his 39th and 40th goals of the season — the second of the game coming with 24:29 to play for a 2-1 Eagles advantage.
With 14:25 to play, Curley midfielder Trey Magnaye sent in a long ball from the left side that Casey Price headed home at the far post for the tying goal.
Both teams had chances afterward, but it was Glaser’s strong run and finish that proved the difference.
“Ethan is a really talented player and I’ve been pushing him really hard all year to give us more,” said McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta. “I thought if we got what I call the best version of him toward the end of the season, we’d have a chance to win the championship, and the last two weeks he’s been phenomenal. He changed the game for us today.”
In looking to close out his sensational senior year with one more win in Sunday’s title game, Murrell, a Georgetown commit, is determined to help lead the Eagles to the program’s 12th league crown.
“Either [Calvert Hall or John Carroll] is going to be a hard test,” he said. “It’s a championship game, big environment again and just like this game, we’re going to have to battle. We’re going to have to battle defensively and big players make big plays — that’s what it comes down to.”
After winning five of their last six in the regular season to earn the third seed, then knocking out Loyola Blakefield in the quarterfinals and providing an extensive pushing to the top-seeded Eagles, the Friars made sure to leave the field with their heads held high on Thursday.
“Losing hurts. It’s amazing what a couple days can do. You go from the highest of highs, winning a game in overtime, and then you have one of the worst feelings you can have as a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kid,” said Curley coach Barry Stitz. “I told them: ‘Winning wouldn’t feel as good if losing didn’t hurt so bad.’ That was today. The team came back all year. For whatever reason, we found ourselves a number of times behind in games and one more time we did and we just battled back. As a coach, what more can you ask from a group of kids? Down to the final second and the goalkeeper hits a ball over the goal — we were that close to tying the game up.”
Goals: C – Keller, Price; M – Murrell 2, Glaser
Assists: C – Landreth, Magnaye; M – Mayer, Tucker
Saves: AC – Caulkins 2, Yakim 4; M – Anderson 6
Half: M, 1-0
No. 2 Calvert Hall blanks No. 4 John Carroll
The host Cardinals (21-2) got an opening goal from sophomore forward Ryan Belal with 28 seconds left in the first half and went from there, pouring in five second-half goal goals to cruise to Sunday’s title game.
Tyler Flynn and Ryan Henneman both scored two goals and Ben Madore enjoyed a one-goal, three-assist performance. Goalkeeper Nate Jones made six saves for his 12th shutout.
In Sunday’s title game against McDonogh, Calvert Hall seeks its sixth MIAA A title with the most recent one coming in 2016. The teams split the two regular-season games — the Cardinals claiming a 1-0 home win on Aug. 27 before the Eagles earned a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 1.
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John Carroll finishes with a 14-7-2 mark.