The boys soccer playoffs in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference get underway Monday with quarterfinal round play. Loyola Blakefield earned the top seed and defending champion McDonogh claimed the second seed to get first-round byes and head straight to Thursday’s semifinals. In Monday’s action, third-seeded Gilman will host sixth-seeded Mount Saint Joseph, while fourth-seeded Archbishop Curley hosts fifth-seeded Calvert Hall.
Here’s a look at the field with outlooks on Monday’s opening games.
No. 1 Loyola Blakefield (17-0, 16-0)
The numbers Loyola put up in achieving the program’s first perfect regular season are downright gaudy: 13 shutouts, 60 goals scored, eight goals allowed. With a senior-dominated roster, 16 in all, the Dons have been a model of consistency playing hard for each other with skilled players throughout the lineup. The defense, featuring seniors Chase Webert, Ben Gallagher, Massimo Tschantret and goalie Pat Milmoe, hasn’t permitted a goal in the past five games. Webert, who plays the right side, is a dynamic two-way player who pressures opposing defense with smart runs forward. Scoring has been balanced for Loyola, also making it hard on opponents who can’t key on any one or two players. John Peterson, Dominic Caltabiano, Chase Llewellyn, Cole Hendrix, Matt Lala and Luke Briggs have all produced with the Dons showing they can win high-scoring games and grind out tight defensive games. Gilman was the toughest opponent in the regular season with the Dons claiming two 1-0 wins against them.
No. 6 McDonogh (11-4-1, 11-4-1)
The defending league champions started the season as the area’s No. 1 team, opened with six straight wins and then hit an uncharacteristic 1-4-1 skid late. The Eagles were able to close out the regular season with wins over Spalding, John Carroll and Calvert Hall last week to hold on to the second seed and the bye. The talent is there and the core has won before — Andrew Privett, Luke Davis and Richie Nichols are the mainstays in the middle, goalie Kieran Baskett anchors the defense and Christian Mason is the top threat up front. But consistency has to come from the Eagles in order to make a formidable playoff run. Even when they were winning games early, coach Brandon Quaranta was concerned with the team’s inability to consistently play well for 80 minutes. Privett is a constant threat with his efficiency on free kicks and in the playoffs, when goals seem harder to come by.
No. 13 Mount Saint Joseph (7-8-1, 7-8-1) at No. 9 Gilman (13-5-2, 10-4-2)
Game time: 3:30 p.m.
The Greyhounds, seeded third, won both regular-season games against the sixth-seeded Gaels — 2-1 on Sept. 14 and 2-0 on Oct. 11. Tough and organized defense has been Gilman’s foundation with senior back Greg Dietter and sophomore goalie Grant Farley leading the way. The Greyhounds get to the ball first and are quick to move it forward, banking on set pieces to score their goals. Mount Saint Joseph, which reached the championship game last year with a senior-laden team, are young but capable of pulling off an upset. Sophomores Tyquan Stroud and Van Danielson provide a dangerous one-two scoring punch while senior goalie Carey Ashton must successfully contend with the Greyhounds free kicks.
No. 14 Calvert Hall (10-8, 8-8) at No. 10 Archbishop Curley (10-8-1, 9-6-1)
Game time: 3:30 p.m.
The fourth-seeded Friars have been the league’s toughest team to figure out, putting in a dominating 80 minutes one game and faltering the next. After a 1-3 start, they have shown an ability to consistently put the ball in the net and closed out the season with a 4-0-1 stretch. After claiming a dominating 5-1 win at Calvert Hall on Sept. 28, they had a much tougher assignment against the Cardinals last week in grinding out a 1-0 home win. The Cardinals have dealt with one injury after the next and will be without four regulars in Monday’s game. Despite the woes, they have held together and remained competitive. The Friars balanced attack is led by senior midfielders Anthony Dragisics and Thunlwyn Garcia, while the Cardinals will lean on junior midfielder Ben Bender and senior goalie Spencer Nattans.