Calvert Hall prevailed in an epic showdown against Boys' Latin May 9 in one of the most highly anticipated lacrosse games of the 2017 season.
In the process, the Cardinals put themselves in the driver's seat to capture the top seed for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association "A" conference playoffs.
Calvert Hall midfielder Brendan Curry (Syracuse) gave the Cardinals an 11-10 victory when he fired the ball past Lakers goalie Chris Brandau with 2:06 remaining in the second overtime. Calvert Hall (13-2 overall, 7-0 MIAA) remains atop the league standings, while the Lakers (12-4, 6-1) are still in position to take the second seed and earn a first-round bye.
"We have some good kids who compete," Calvert Hall head coach Bryan Kelly said. "I thought we kept our composure. They played a lot of zone. I thought we did a really good job on it early. Then, I think the nerves got in us, and we didn't move the ball fast. It was a good experience for us."
Jacob Kelly (North Carolina) continued his stellar season for the Cardinals by contributing three goals and four assists. He managed to spark the offense despite constant tight marking by the Lakers.
Calvert Hall was solid in transition but struggled at times trying to break down Boys' Latin's zone defense. The Cardinals finally found a seam when Jacob Kelly drew a pair of defenders and made a deft pass to Curry, who had made a cut toward the goal and scored the game-winner.
"We had a play ready that we ran a few times earlier, and it didn't really work out," Jacob Kelly said, "I knew Brendan was going to be there. I am glad he was able to can it and I could get it to him."
Calvert Hall can clinch the regular-season title with a victory at home against St. Paul's May 12 before traveling to archrival Loyola Blakefield May 16. Boys' Latin can take the second seed with victories against Gilman and St. Paul's in its final two games.
PNC Lacrosse Spotlight: John Carroll Coach Brian King
John Carroll head coach Brian King knows all about building a successful lacrosse program. As the coach at Hereford, King led the Bulls to five Class 3A-2A state titles in six years. In 2014, he took over the boys' team at John Carroll and turned that program into a power in the MIAA "B" conference. The Patriots are the two-time defending league champion and are once again the team to beat this season.
You put together a difficult nonconference schedule with games against Gilman, St. Paul's and Severn. How much did your team get better through this challenge?
Brian King: We challenged the kids to be the best practice players in the country every day no matter what adversity we are facing. I think the way we practice with focus and intensity has helped us gain confidence for May. It's been one of those years where the injury bug hit us hard and we have had kids really step up. We want to play the best ... to expose what we need to work on to peak for May. The film we got from those games was awesome.
During your current winning streak, your defense has not allowed more than 10 goals in a game. What has been the key for that unit?
BK: The way we practice and prepare. [Defensive coordinator Frank Mezzanotte] does a great job teaching fundamentals and drilling the 'D' on game-like situations. We should get kids back that have been out this week, which will help. Really impressed with the improvement our 'D' has made the last couple weeks.
John Carroll has scored 15 or more goals during the past seven games. What has been the catalyst for that type of explosiveness?
BK: We are not a great dodging team and have to steal goals schematically. Our players' IQ has improved tremendously. We are working towards a point of a player-run offense and hope to be ready for playoffs.
For more from King, including the impact of upperclassmen leadership and how his players have handled the challenge of being the team to beat, read the complete interview here.
PressBox Regional Power Rankings
2. Calvert Hall
4. Boys' Latin
6. St. Paul's
7. Severna Park
3. Notre Dame Prep
4. Marriotts Ridge
5. Glenelg Country
6. Archbishop Spalding
8. Garrison Forest
9. Severna Park
10. Manchester Valley