For 80 minutes on Wednesday night, the No. 1 Calvert Hall boys soccer team pressed and probed against visiting rival Loyola Blakefield, searching for a clean look at goal that never seemed to be on the end of their mounted attacks.
The Cardinals just needed an extra 90 seconds in overtime to come up with the winning score.
Senior Tyler Flynn was the night’s hero as he got on the receiving end of a cross from fellow senior Cody Angelini, and Flynn’s powerful one-timer past diving Dons goalkeeper Jordy Eckman was the game-ending “Golden Goal” that moved top-ranked Calvert Hall past No. 2 Loyola for a big early-season victory.
The Cardinals, the reigning champions of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, are undefeated at 3-0, with prior league victories over Mount Saint Joseph and then-No. 5 McDonogh. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles, 1-0, last week on an overtime goal by Ben Madore.
Going into Wednesday’s overtime period, Flynn was all smiles on the sideline, dapping up goalkeeper Nate Jones and giving encouragement to teammates, sensing a breakthrough was imminent.
“We have a special season,” said Flynn of the overtime mentality. “If we’re going to lose, we’re going to hear all about it, so we can’t lose. We’ve got to win every game. We’re coming for the win every game. Overtime, we’re playing good in the overtime, and we’re winning games.”
The route to that point on Wednesday hadn’t been easy for either team. The Cardinals pressed early and looked a step faster than their guests at every turn, beating Loyola to balls and connecting passes in the middle of the field. Their quick passing shaped the game for both teams throughout.
Early buildups from Calvert Hall right fullback Gabriel Glikin and shots by Dylan Isaac and Rocco Pastore stress-tested Loyola’s defense, but the Cardinals found no clear openings in front of the goal.
Loyola had the game’s first real chance on a counter attack in the 22nd minute, but Landon Lackner’s low burner was saved by Jones, who gloved the ball diving to his right.
In the 24th minute, Madore fired the first of what developed as a theme for the Cardinals—a shot directly at Eckman, who caught it squarely. Sharp linkage play by Flynn, Madore and Rich Monath yielded another opportunity for Calvert Hall minutes later, but Ryan Belal’s flick header went wide.
The Dons (2-1), forced into a defensive posture through much of the first half, made adjustments and fought their way into the game in the second half, somewhat evening the run of play.
“We did not play well in the first half, and some of the credit is to Calvert Hall for pressing us, but we were off. We’re usually a better passing team than that,” said Loyola coach Lee Tschantret, whose Dons managed eight shots to Calvert Hall’s nine. “The fact that we kind of fought our way into the game and got hold of the game and held on is great. It’s great for us. I was really proud of the guys.”
Still, Calvert Hall’s experienced team of pass-savvy midfielders, forwards and backs kept moving the ball, and the Cardinals’ intricate passing remained a constant threat. Angelini and Flynn both found space to get shots off, but always the drives were in the sight of Eckman for relatively easy saves.
In the 65th minute, Loyola’s Stefan Garefalakis’ sensational bicycle kick attempt was deflected, and the ball fell to Lucas DuBois, whose shot sailed high on possibly Loyola’s best chance of the game.
Having mounted credible threats throughout the night, the Cardinals entered overtime with confidence befitting their senior-laden squad. Focusing on passing, spacing and moving, and they needed less than two minutes before Monath started the sequence that ultimately resulted in the winner. The senior forward gathered the ball in the middle of the field and found Angelini wide, and Flynn, running the down the middle, knew from training not to be ball-watching.
“[Assistant] Coach Frank [Assaro] is always telling us not to look at the ball but look into space, into the box, so I wasn’t even looking at the ball, I was just looking at the space into the box,” said Flynn, “and then Cody found me into the space and I just finished it one time with the left.”
Flynn’s thumper was buried soundly in the net, giving Eckman no chance at a save, and Calvert Hall’s players rushed the field in celebration.
With a pair of big overtime wins just days apart, Angelini said experience is a separator for the Cardinals.
“We have a lot of players from last year, and we experienced a lot of overtimes last year,” Angelini said. “Some of those overtimes we weren’t able to capitalize, and some of those overtimes like in the championship final we were able to capitalize. So I think it’s just us getting better, and then even last week we were in overtime against McDonogh and Ben Madore had a good goal, and now we were able to capitalize with Flynn’s goal.”
Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand knows his squad’s goal-scoring isn’t yet in mid-season form, and that’s okay.
“These early-season matches, it really does come down to just execution in the final third. They had some chances, we had some chances, and we were fortunate there to have a really nice buildup on that final goal in overtime,” Zinkand said. “These guys have played together for awhile now, all very similar players. They play one- and two-touches. They like to possess the ball and move off the ball. That final third is not clicking just yet. We’re not getting on anybody, but just, it’s coming, it’s coming. Just keep moving the ball.”
The Cardinals have turned the page on the success of last year, when they won the program’s first MIAA A Conference championship. Despite naturally wanting to defend their title, they’re trying to take on the fresh challenge of this season with a one-game-at-a-time mentality.
“Loyola’s always a little special, but it’s the third game of the season, and it’s a long season,” Zinkand said. “There’s 20 league games. So, this isn’t making or breaking our season, but it’s nice to get out of here with the three points tonight.”
Still, the win over rival Loyola is memorable for the players.
“We’re going to remember this 20 years from now, we’re going to be talking about this for the rest of our lives,” said Flynn, “so it means everything to us.”
NO. 1 CALVERT HALL 1, NO. 2 LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD 0, OT
LOY 0 0 - 0 – 0
CHC 0 0 - 1 – 1
Goal: CH-Tyler Flynn.
Assist: CH-Cody Angelini.
Saves: LOY-Jordy Eckman 6; CH-Nate Jones 6.