Considered a clear favorite to win an unprecedented third straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship from the beginning, the No. 1 Calvert Hall lacrosse team maintained a simple season-long plan of getting better every day.
By season’s end, which came Friday night with another dominant performance — this time against No. 2 St. Mary’s, 15-7, for that third straight crown — the 2019 Cardinals are being talked about as one of the greatest teams the storied league has ever produced.
It’s justified chatter with further validation coming in Friday’s championship showcase before an announced crowd of 3,231 at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.
In finishing the season with a 17-1 record — their only loss coming in overtime against Canadian power Hill Academy on March 13 — the Cardinals overwhelmed their MIAA foes, going undefeated in 12 games with a winning margin a tad under 10 goals per game.
“Our theme this year was gratitude and we just wanted to play with gratitude and thankfulness,” Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said. “I thought our guys showed up every game and they competed. And I’ve never been a part of a team that has been this — I don’t mean it arrogantly — but we were dominant. I don’t know if that will ever happen again.”
On Friday, the Cardinals’ talent and depth was on display. They got a goal or assist from nine players with Jack Sawyer (one goal, five assists), Grant Mitchell (three goals, two assists), Cole Herbert (two goals, three assists), Truitt Sunderland (two goals, two assists) and Daniel Kelly (three goals) all shining. It’s the program’s fifth MIAA A crown, the most by any program since the league’s inception in 1996.
Calvert Hall’s first seven goals came from different players and when Kelly became the first multiple-goal scorer, his second tally with 4:35 left in the first half provided an 8-1 advantage.
“I think from day one, starting back in August when school begins, it’s just hard work and dedication and we’ve been consistent day in and day out,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been able to play the way Coach Kelly wants us to play — unselfishly and really grateful — just being able to move the ball and play with joy. Really, that’s it.”
Their first double-digit lead, which became the norm at the end of the regular season, came midway through the third quarter when Mitchell made it 12-2 with 4:09 left in the third quarter and their biggest margin would be 12 a little later.
St. Mary’s (13-6) had a fine season of its own in falling one win short.
“St. Mary’s lacrosse 2019 was a successful season,” St. Mary’s coach Victor Lilly said. “We lost the championship here tonight, but, all in all, for the program’s sake, we reached the A Conference championship game and came out on the short end, see if we can get better next year.”
In 2016 — Lilly’s first as head coach — the Saints had a one-win season with a young and inexperienced group.
Fortitude followed with two straight quarterfinal appearances and then this year’s leap to the title game. Four-year varsity players BJ Burlace, Ian Krampf, Garrett Nilsen and Ryan Jones carried much of the load.
“In 2016, we were 1-15,” Lilly said. “We had four kids …. starting as freshmen and they started every game since they’ve been here and they helped put St. Mary’s lacrosse back to where we expect it to be. We just got to try to improve and see if we can’t win a championship in the future.”
Scout Ripley had three goals and Burlace scored twice for the Saints with goalie Wes Schmidt finishing with 14 saves.
Archbishop Curley 12, Glenelg Country 3: The Friars (14-3) beat the Dragons (15-4) to claim the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship at Towson University. Curley led 8-3 at the half.
Annapolis Area Christian 17, Indian Creek 11: Dylin Borden had a game-high 10 points on six goals and four assists to lead AACS (15-2) past Indian Creek (13-4) in the MIAA C Conference championship at Towson University. This was the second straight meeting between the two teams in the title game. Indian Creek won last year’s championship, 15-13.
No. 4 Gilman 10, No. 7 Mount Saint Joseph 2: The host Greyhounds (22-4) scored six runs in the fourth inning and beat the Gaels (20-10) in a MIAA A Conference semifinal. Gilman advances to Monday’s league championship game at 6 p.m. at Harford Community College. If No. 3 Calvert Hall (23-6) loses, it will force a deciding game Tuesday. The Cardinals beat the Greyhounds, 4-3, on Wednesday to reach the finals and send Gilman into the consolation bracket.
Gerstell 15, Glenelg Country 2: The visiting Falcons (15-7) handed the Dragons (18-5) their second loss in the MIAA B Conference playoffs. Gerstell won, 10-7, over Glenelg Country on Monday. The Falcons advance to Monday’s league championship game, for the first time in school history, at 4 p.m. at Harford Community College. If Boys’ Latin (19-6) loses, it will force a deciding game Tuesday.