In a matchup of ranked teams with contrasting styles, Calvert Hall needed almost three quarters to solve the defensive tactics of visiting Oakland Mills.
Goals by Adam Eagan and Eric Branham in a 34-second span of the second half lifted No. 2 Calvert Hall over the third-ranked Scorpions, 2-0, yesterday.
Eagan's goal came on a through ball from J.J. Kremer with 21 minutes, 8 seconds to play. Kremer, one of two All-Metro strikers who were "very frustrated" by Oakland Mills' packed-in defense, punched his pass through three Scorpions backs to Eagen.
He collected the ball 5 yards to the right of Scorpions keeper Jason Kranefeld and immediately hammered a low drive to the far corner of goal.
But the celebrating barely had died down when Branham controlled a high bounce 15 yards on top and drove his shot high to Kranefeld's left. The goals came just minutes after artful stops by Kranefeld, including a sliding kick-save on Todd Perkins.
The goals were also just enough to avenge two seasons of defeat by Oakland Mills.
"There was a man open all the time. We just had to knock the ball around, keep it moving and open things up," Kremer said. This the Cardinals did not do.
Instead, when Oakland Mills opened with one striker, four midfielders and a five-man back line, Calvert Hall allowed itself to bog down against a defense that was clearly designed to stop All-Metro strikers J.J. Kremer and Bryan Bugarin, the team's leading scorer with 18 goals last season.
"We wanted to work it around and get them frustrated. But we got frustrated, very frustrated, by making the difficult pass instead of the simple pass," Kremer said.
However, Kremer's threaded ball to Eagan -- who sneaked around sweeper Brent Mascott to take position -- was "just as simple as it could be," he said, grinning.
Cardinals coach Bill Karpovich called the victory "certainly satisfying." It came after 2-0 and 3-2 losses to the Scorpions the past two seasons. "And any time you beat one of the big three from Columbia, you've got a good team," he said.
Karpovich thought his Cardinals were a little long in breaking through. "We wanted to knock it wide and make them come out and cover," he said. "Instead, we were standing around like a soldier at attention, waiting for the ball to land on his foot."
That was fine with Scorpions coach Don Shea. "We frustrated them all over the field. We defensed them very, very well. Italians get to the World Cup by playing this way," he said.
Oakland Mills, which carries only three seniors, was outshot 26-3, including 13-0 in the first half. But Calvert Hall repeatedly squandered its opportunities.
Scorpions halfback Jay Holmes made a fine run and superb crossing pass from the corner 28 seconds before halftime, but nobody was on the receiving end.