Rich Monath said he was physically a “two” on a scale of one-to-10 going into Sunday’s MIAA A Conference soccer championship game.

“I missed school Friday and missed practice Friday and Saturday,” he said afterwards. “I’m not feeling really well.”

Monath has the flu. He probably should not have been on the UMBC Stadium’s field, running up and down for more than two hours.

Like not playing was really an option in Monath’s mind. There was too much at a stake, and most importantly, one final ride with his senior mates.

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It was a heck of a ride for Monath, who found his inner Michael Jordan and completed a scintillating two-year run for the No. 1 Cardinals. The senior scored with 5 minutes, 27 seconds left in the second overtime, giving Calvert Hall a 2-1 victory over second-ranked John Carroll.

In closing the season with 21 straight victories, the Cardinals (24-0-1 overall) completed the first unbeaten in the area’s toughest league since McDonogh’s 21-0-1 run in 2013. The Eagles, who claimed the nation’s No. 1 ranking (Student Sports’ Fab 50), outlasted St. Paul’s on a frigid November night at Archbishop Spalding.

On an unseasonably warm and damp Sunday evening in Catonsville, Calvert Hall gained a place among the MIAA A’s best all-time and stake its claim as the nation’s best boys high school team.

Monath was the messenger. Off a push started by senior Cody Angelini, Monath got a pass from Angelini and gave the ball to Justin Crow near the corner.

Crow one-touched the ball back to Monath, who buried the ball past John Carroll goalie Amir Smith for the repeat.

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Monath and his Cardinal teammates made a beeline to the fence to celebrate with their classmates, many wearing Christmas-theme costumes.

It was the second straight championship gift by Monath, whose “golden goal” ended McDonogh’s title run in a 2-1 double overtime decision a year ago at Anne Arundel Community College.

“Obviously, it was an amazing moment,” said Monath of his latest clutch effort. “I just wanted to win and that’s what I came out to do.”

“My teammates kept saying ‘Michael Jordan flu game,’ obviously it was great motivation and they kept pushing me telling me ‘keep working, it’s going to come,” added Monath. “Best teammates in the world.”

Of course, Monath’s efforts pale in comparison to Jordan’s epic 38-point performance in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals that stands in American sports folklore.

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But, it was gutsy, nonetheless.

“He was sick all game, hunched over, but he pushed through it,” said Crow. “It’s just crazy…surreal.”

The Cardinals were stunned just a little over three minutes into the game when goalie Nate Jones misplayed Austin Hoffman’s long throw. The ball took a high bounce over the turf and Jones tried to knock it away with his left hand and went into the goal, giving John Carroll a 1-0 advantage.

The score was the early boost John Carroll needed. The Patriots, who played Calvert Hall to a 3-3 tie during the regular season, kept the quick and highly-skilled Cardinal attack at bay, behind goalie Amir Smith (nine saves).

With eight minutes left in regulation, Calvert Hall broke through. Moments after Smith stopped Ben Ramsey’s header, Ben Madore lofted a pass into the box where Rocco Pastore and Ryan Belal were next to each other.

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Pastore got the ball and quickly laid it on the turf for Belal who put a strike into the corner with 8:28 left in regulation.

Belal, a junior forward, said Calvert Hall stayed resolute despite being down a major portion of regulation Sunday.

Calvert Hall won its second straight MIAA A Conference championship with a double overtime victory over John Carroll at UMBC Stadium. The Cardinals finished the season unbeaten at 24-0-1. (John Bowers)

“That’s the core part of our team: staying composed and playing until the final whistle. That’s what we do,” said Belal. “We don’t take a play off.”

The defining play of Calvert Hall’s season displayed their tremendous skill and chemistry. Belal, getting to a deflected ball, quickly laid it to Pastore who passed it to Angelini in the middle.

Angelini carried the ball forward and passed to Monath, who sent a back-heel pass toward the corner for Crow. Crow one-touched a left-footed pass to Monath, who slotted the ball into the net for the Cardinal repeat.

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“He’s been sick the last couple of days and did not look well at all tonight,” said Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkland. “I just believe in the kid, leave him out there and he’s going to make a play when it matters most.”

It was a devastating end to a valiant effort by John Carroll, which reached its first MIAA A final Sunday. The Patriots who gave up eight goals in two regular season matches against Calvert Hall, were nearly flawless Sunday, keeping arguably the nation’s best team scoreless for nearly 72 minutes in regulation.

“We talked a lot this week about having a more elevated response and making sure if things don’t go our way, we get back,” said Patriots coach Jim Fendryk, who was a standout defender for Calvert Hall in the late 1990s. “The bad part about overtime is you don’t get to respond.”

The Cardinals, ranked No. 2 in the nation by, found a way, completing a back-to-back MIAA A title run for the first time since 2002 and 2003 under legendary coach Bill Karpovich.

Monath wanted one final chance to play with his teammates, especially Angelini, Tyler Flynn, Josh Nagy, Madore and Gabe Glikin, who’ve been on varsity together since their freshman year.

And, secured his place in Calvert Hall soccer folklore.

“You imagine championships, trophies and Reif Cups and building friendships,” said Monath, “but back-to-back goals in the final is something you would never think of.”




Calvert Hall 0 1 0 1 - 2

John Carroll 1 0 0 0 - 1

Goals: John Carroll - own goal; Calvert Hall - Ryan Belal, Rich Monath

Assists: Calvert Hall - Rocco Pastore, Justin Crow

Saves: John Carroll - Amir Smith 9; Calvert Hall - Nate Jones 6

Calvert Hall celebrates after winning its second straight MIAA A Conference title Sunday evening at UMBC. (John Bowers)
Calvert Hall's Ryan Belal (left), Cody Angelini, Ben Madore and Ryan Henneman (back) celebrate after Belal scored the tying goal in Sunday's MIAA A Conference championship game. (John Bowers)
Ryan Belal (left) celebrates with teammates Cody Angelini (right) and Ryan Henneman after Belal's goal in the second half of Sunday's MIAA A Conference title game. (John Bowers)
Calvert Hall's Rich Monath holds up the MIAA A Conference championship plaque after the Cardinals' victory over John Carroll at UMBC. (John Bowers)
Calvert Hall's Ryan Belal celebrates his second half score during Sunday's MIAA A Conference championship match. (John Bowers)