McDonogh senior goalie Kieran Baskett spent a good part of Sunday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game flawlessly commanding his penalty area against undefeated and No. 1 Loyola Blakefield.
In the end, after 100 minutes of scoreless soccer followed by eight rounds of gut-wretching penalty kicks, he took matters into his own right foot and then capable hands.
After finding the left corner with his penalty take, he made a diving save on Luke Briggs’ shot aimed for the right corner.
The celebration followed as No. 2 McDonogh successfully defended its title by a 7-6 margin in the shootout.
Baskett finished with three saves during penalty kicks, and the Eagles got finishes from Sean Nolan, Andrew Privett, Mason Christian, Richie Nichols, Kyle Brown and Jackson Ruckman before Baskett closed out the win.
“In the end, I think we deserved to win — we hit the post twice in overtime and I was praying that we wouldn’t lose in penalties,” Baskett said.
“I just kept my cool I think, stepped up, took my time and placed it in the corner. Our team took some great penalties, kept their nerve and it’s just a great day.”
The Eagles knew exactly how the Dons were feeling after a remarkable season ended on a disappointing note. In 2014, they were 19-0 and trying to close out a perfect season only to watch as Loyola claimed a 2-0 win for the title.
All season, the Dons were able to find ways to win games, but didn’t have the same good fortune Sunday.
“The game kind of went how we thought it would go — I thought we played pretty well and kept the large majority of possession. They were dangerous on set pieces, very organized and you know it just comes down to PKs,” said Loyola coach Lee Tschantret, who noted the team’s inability to finish off chances in the final third Sunday.
“If you’re looking for a wonderful MIAA game, what a way to end the season. It was just unfortunate for my guys, but that kind of happens. I was extremely proud of the type of soccer we played this year.”
The 100 minutes was evenly played with fast pace and both teams sustaining quality stretches although no breakthroughs.
Privett had two chances in the first 10-minute overtime to give the Eagles the title, but he banged shots off the crossbar and the post.
Earlier in the half, the Dons had a number of corner kicks that Baskett capably handled.
In the first half, Juliann Schmugge, who scored twice in the Loyola’s 3-2 semifinal win over Archbishop Curley on Thursday, had the Dons’ best chance in the 14th minute when he ran on to a through ball and got a shot off that Baskett decisively came out to turn aside.
The Eagles had the better of it in the latter stages, sending a number of dangerous balls in the area that were handled by the Dons’ back line. With under eight minutes to play, Luke Davis aimed a free kick to the far post that Chase Webert alertly headed out of danger.
While the Dons stayed on their season-long roll, registering 13 shutouts and outscoring their opponents by a 63-10 margin, the defending champions had to recover from an uncharacteristic rough patch to reach Sunday’s final.
The Eagles were ranked No. 1 in the preseason Top 15 poll and played like it in the first month of the season with seven straight wins, but then showed vulnerability with an 1-4-1 stretch that hit rock bottom with a 5-0 loss to the Dons on Oct. 22.
In the end they found resolve in repeating. “We’ve had an up-and-down season, just a lot of emotion, some really good moments and some really bad moments, and it just shows the determination of this group. We were able to persevere through all the difficult times and able to come through to put it all together tonight and get a win,” Privett said.