McDonogh's Brian Lenzer collected a loose ball that scooted through the penalty area and fired it into the top of goal late in the game against Mount Saint Joseph. It wasn’t the only ball that would bounce the Eagles’ way.
Andrew Privett knocked in another loose ball with four minutes left and top-ranked McDonogh knocked off the No. 6 Gaels, 2-0, in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference championship Sunday night at Anne Arundel Community College. The Eagles (20-2) won their ninth league title since it was formed in 1995, ending the season with eight straight wins.
“It’s always the senior class,” McDonogh coach Brandon Quaranta said. “Our seniors have been great. We got to a little bit of a slow start. We were winning games but not playing well. They brought us through that. I thought we were the best team in the league the past three of four weeks of the season. That’s what you want to do.”
The Eagles’ Casey Settleman had a good chance six minutes into the game, but his shot from 18 yards went over the crossbar. The Gaels were equally dangerous and a low shot by Diego Guerrero was deflected just before heading into the corner of the goal.
The Eagles were effective moving the ball into the offensive third of the field. However, the Gaels, led by sweeper Brett St. Martin, were able to consistently thwart those attacks by running down passes and winning loose balls.
Mount Saint Joseph kept McDonogh on the defensive with counterattacks, but a heated first half ended scoreless.
The game opened up in the second half as both teams had more room to work through the midfield. Sean Nolan was especially effective for the Eagles running past defenders.
The Gaels midfielder Tyquan Stroud came close to providing the lead, but his low shot sailed just wide of the far post with 24 minutes left in the game.
Lenzer finally broke through with 14 minutes left when he anticipated the ball making its way to him in the penalty area. Privett put the game away 10 minutes later.
“In the first half, the energy was high and the ball was bouncing around, so it was hard to settle,” Lenzer said. “At halftime, we were able to clean things up, perfect the offense and get a couple of goals.”
The Gaels (15-6-1) were searching for their fourth league title and first since 2009. Mount St. Joseph entered the game with confidence, knocking off a powerful Curley squad in the semifinals.
“I was very proud of our seniors,” Gaels coach Mike St. Martin said. “When they were freshmen, we only had three wins. They believed in the program. They stayed. They didn’t transfer. As disappointing as this is, I’m proud the way they fought all year.”
The last time Friends won a championship in soccer was 1999 — the same year senior Michael Klausner was born.
Klausner scored a goal and his cross led to another score to lead the Quakers to a 4-1 victory over Concordia Prep in the MIAA B Conference championship.
"I felt we had a good season overall," Klausner said. "This is what we've been working on the whole time. We knew we had something special."
Friends (16-1-1) took control with three first-half goals from Paul Benzer, Edward Forbush and Klausner. From there, the Quakers continued to control the run of play. Klausner's cross with 28:55 left in the game was deflected into the goal by a Saints' defender that boosted the margin to four.
A goal by Concordia's Taylor Calheira off a deft pass by Andrew Schnaack three minutes late cut the lead to 4-1. The Saints handed Friends its only loss in the regular season.
Concordia (12-6) won the MIAA C conference last season.
McDonogh 2, Mount St. Joseph 0
Goals: M — Lenzer, Privett. Assists: None. Saves: MSJ — Carey 5; McD — Baskett 4. Half: 0-0
Friends 4, Concordia Prep 1
Goals: C — Calheira; F — Benzer, Forbush, Klausner. Assists: C — Schnaack. Saves: C — Gregory 7; F — Cullen 4. Half: F: 3-0