A couple of quick first-half goals from visiting Calvert Hall caught Mount Saint Joseph off guard in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference quarterfinals Monday.
But they weren't enough to keep the No. 6 Gaels from their big plans this postseason.
The home team impressively recovered, tying the game by halftime and getting the game-winning goal from senior reserve Tolu Iluyomade midway through the second half for a 3-2 win over the defending league champion and No. 15 Cardinals.
Mount Saint Joseph (14-5-1) will visit No. 2 Archbishop Curley in the semifinal round Thursday at 3 p.m. The teams split their two meetings during the regular season.
After Calvert Hall's Dylan Burruss and Ben Bender scored less than three minutes apart late in a first half mostly controlled by the Gaels — Bender making it 2-0 with 11:52 left before halftime — the home team executed under urgent circumstances.
Ian Reger scored less than a minute later on a penalty kick awarded after the Cardinals were called for a hand ball in the penalty area and Casey McCanna tied the game 4:18 before the break. Continuing to press in the second half, Iluyomade found the ball at his feet inside the area, quickly turned and scored the deciding goal with 18:82 to play. The Gaels defense took good care of the final minutes in securing the win
"I told them at halftime I was happy with the way they responded," Mount Saint Joseph coach Mike St. Martin said. "I don't think we've been put in that situation this year, so it's something that we can build off of starting Thursday. I was happy the way they continued to battle and didn't give up. We have 16 seniors on this team and they didn't want to go out that way."
After standout senior scorer Jake Mazzei was lost to an injury early in the season, the Gaels have been sharing the scoring duties. Iluyomade has been a recent spark with Monday's goal his biggest by far.
"I'm just waiting to get my time and try to be ready when I do get my time to help the team out any way I can," he said.
After winning last year's championship with a strong senior class, the Cardinals (8-10-1) hit some bumps this season with only two starters back and a roster mostly composed of underclassmen. They put forth a quality effort Monday — junior goalkeeper Spencer Nattans stood out with seven saves — and coach Rich Zinkand believes the team is positioned well for the future.
"Obviously, it didn't quite turn out to be the season we expected, but I was really proud of the effort today from the boys," he said.
"We got the first one — and we've been struggling to score goals — and then a few minutes later came back to get the second one. We talked about it coming over, how St. Joe is a veteran team and they weren't going to quit no matter what and they just kept working hard."
No. 10 Loyola Blakefield 3, Gilman 2 (OT): The host Dons (13-7-1) had to rally to advance to Thursday's semifinals, getting a goal from senior Alex Reid with under three minutes left in the first 10-minute overtime.
Junior John Peterson scored his second goal of the game with 1:30 to play in the second half to send the game into overtime.
The Dons will visit No. 1 McDonogh in Thursday's semifinal at 3:30 p.m. The teams split their two regular-season meetings with the visitor winning both games.
In Monday's quarterfinal, the Dons took a 1-0 halftime lead only to see the Greyhounds get goals from Joe Melancon and Greg Diette to take the lead in the second half.
Staying persistent, the Dons eventually found the equalizer when Peterson scored on a tough angle on the right side after a feed from Domenic Caltabiano before Reid sent them to the semifinal round.
"What I was happiest about was we continued to do what has been successful for us even when we were down, 2-1. We kept doing what we do well and it paid off, so that was nice," Loyola coach Lee Tschantret said.