Shortly after Archbishop Curley handled its business against visiting Calvert Hall on Monday to keep the soccer season going, senior captain Anthony Dragisics was still trying to comprehend his team’s fine performance.
The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs are mostly tightly contested with little room for error, and that was the case until midway through the second half.
That’s when the No. 10 Friars put in five unanswered goals to finally shake the No. 14 Cardinals, coming away with an 8-3 quarterfinal win.
Curley improved to 11-8-1 and will travel to No. 1 Loyola Blakefield (17-0) in Thursday’s semifinal.
“It’s still kind of processing in my head that we scored eight goals in a quarterfinal game. We knew we could do this all year. We’re really believing in ourselves. We believe that we can do this thing,” said Dragisic, who scored three of the goals.
The Friars came out fast, got goals from Bryce Woodward and Alex Martinez Herrero (two goals, one assist), and looked as if they were ready to bury the Cardinals with more chances coming soon after.
But the Cardinals, who have been without four starters because of injury down the final stretch of the season, survived and then cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal from Ryan Fascetta with 3:46 left in the first half.
The visitors tied the game twice — including Ben Bender (one goal, one assist) getting them even at 3 with 27:58 to play. But the Friars quickly responded each time, and the last time it was a five-goal outburst to close out the game. Thunlwyn Garcia made it 4-3 with 22:20 and then Martinez Herrero added another goal nine seconds later with Dragisics adding two straight shortly after.
“Things clicked today and I thought we scored some pretty goals,” Curley coach Barry Stitz said. “Credit to them, I thought at 2-0 we were in a good place, but they kept fighting back every time we got another goal and tied it up two times. I’m really proud of the boys because when you have leads twice and relinquish [them], it’s really easy for the momentum to change and we didn’t allow that to happen today.”
Next up for the Friars is Loyola Blakefield, which earned an opening-round bye as the top seed. The Dons twice beat the Friars by one goal in the regular season, the most recent time 3-2 on Oct. 11.
“Loyola is undefeated and No. 1, but we’re excited about it,” Dragisics said. “We feel like we’re playing our best soccer right now and you can’t ask for more going into Loyola. It’s a tough place to play, but we’re going to be ready to carry off this momentum and bring it to them.
Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand said that without the depth and some of the leadership that was lost to injuries, the Cardinals (10-9) simply ran out of gas on Monday with the Friars persistently pressing. Senior goalie Spencer Nattans played a big role in keeping the Cardinals close for much of the game, finishing with 10 saves.
“It would have been easy to fold down 2-0 and we didn’t — that’s what I love about these boys. They’re resilient, they worked hard but just came up a little short this year,” Zinkand said.
Goals: CH – Bender, Burruss, Fascetta; C – Dragisics 3, Martinez Herrero 2, Garcia, Woodward, Bravo
Assists: CH – Bender, Garfink; C – Sloan, Harry 2, Martinez Herrero, Holy
Saves: CH – Nattans 10; C – Caulkins 3
Half: C, 2-1
No. 9 Gilman 2, No. 13 Mount Saint Joseph 0: In Monday’s other quarterfinal, the host Greyhounds (14-5-2) got two second-half goals from Logan Paff and recorded their ninth shutout of the season to advance to Thursday’s semifinal.
Paff opened the scoring with 31 minutes left in regulation, putting away a rebound off a shot from Eli Webb — and then added an insurance goal with 18 minutes to play off a set piece served in from Tyler Martinez.
Goalie Grant Farley made eight saves. The Gaels, who got seven saves from goalie Ashton Carey, end the season 7-9-1.
Gilman, seeded third, travels to No. 6 McDonogh for Thursday’s semifinal.
McDonogh beat the Greyhounds, 5-1, on Sept. 8 before the teams tied 1-1 tie at Gilman on Oct. 5.
“I’m proud of my team finding a way today against a good St. Joe team. We will need to be at our very best on Thursday to be competitive against a very good McDonogh team,” Gilman coach Jon Seal said.
Goals: G – Paff 2
Assists: G – Webb, Martinez
Saves: MSJ – Carey 7; G – Farley 4