The Loyola Blakefield soccer team was pressing the attack most of Monday’s game at Gilman and early in the second half still had nothing to show for the work put in.
It was clear — with the host Greyhounds staying fully committed and organized on defense — that the No. 3 Dons would need something special to break through.
Sophomore Dominic Caltabiano was up to the task.
With a loose ball at his feet and Gilman goalie Grant Farley quickly recovering after making an initial save, Caltabiano held off on hurrying the rebound.
Instead, he made a deliberate touch to his right to get around Farley and then shot at the open net.
The goal, coming with 25:38 to play, lifted Loyola to a 1-0 win over the No. 11 Greyhounds in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
The Dons improved to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA A, while the Greyhounds fell to 6-3 and 4-2 in the league.
After pouring in 30 goals in their first seven games, including a 6-0 win over Archbishop Spalding on Sunday, the Dons had a tougher time solving Gilman’s stingy defense. Aside from minor adjustments, the halftime message was exactly what Caltabiano did — stay poised.
“It was hard to break them down. And in a game like this, you have to try to keep your composure and kind of keep doing the things you do well. We did and ended up getting one,” said Loyola coach Lee Tschantret, who was impressed with Caltabiano’s work in tight quarters.
Tschantret added: “That shows a lot of maturity. A lot of players would just swing at it. [Farley] is such a good keeper, he made himself big right away that that would have hit him. So Dom did a great job touching it around him and then finishing.”
An errant clear — a rare miscue from the Greyhounds defense — provided the opportunity. It gave John Peterson the ball inside the penalty area on the right side to knuckle a shot that Farley stopped. Caltabiano got to the rebound just before Farley and was precise with his plan to finish the chance.
“I saw it was a 50-50 and got a touch around the keeper and finished it,” he said. “We kept fighting, kept moving the ball. Overall, it was a great game and I was lucky to get on the end of that one goal.”
The Greyhounds were mostly content to sit back and counter, a plan that proved effective in the first half to keep the game scoreless.
The Dons hit the post with one shot and had much more time with the ball, but the Greyhounds had the best chance to score midway through the half. Senior Michael Brittingham won a ball at midfield and sent a through ball to Logan Paff, whose shot was smothered well by drawn-out keeper Pat Milmoe.
After Caltabiano made it 1-0, the Dons protected the lead well with more possession and responsible defense of their own. Matt Lala and Chase Webert both had important clears on set pieces from the Greyhounds.
Going into the game, Gilman coach Jon Seal said converting on set pieces would be the key and his Greyhounds weren’t able to finish any chances. Eli Webb and Greg Diette were standouts in back with Farley making five saves.
“I told our guys we just have to continue to improve. We don’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss, so we’ve got to bounce back against John Carroll on Wednesday,” he said.
Saves: LB – Milmoe 3; G – Farley 5.