Mount St. Joe (8-1-0) has grabbed a slim lead in the MSA A Conference Division I soccer race, but must hold off visiting Archbishop Curley (7-2-1) tomorrow at 3:45 p.m. Higher seeding for the upcoming playoffs is at stake as well as the division title.
Calvert Hall (8-0) holds a commanding lead in Division II, ahead of surprising Spalding (6-2).
Curley defeated John Carroll (6-3-1) last week for the second time this season, but had to forfeit one of those victories because of an ineligible player.
"The only good thing about it is that we still control our own destiny," said Curley coach Tom "Pep" Perella. "We can regain the lead by beating St. Joe, but that won't be easy. They are playing as well as anyone in the league right now."
Curley lost to St. Joe, 2-1, in their first meeting this season, but the blue-collar Friars are capable of beating the Gaels, if they get their intricate passing game in gear.
"We build our attack from the back," said Perella. "Sometimes we get caught up in the opponents' game and forget to do what we do best."
The recent show against John Carroll proved his point. The Patriots took the game into the air early and beat the Friars to nearly every head ball while grabbing a 1-0 lead. Curley finally grounded the ball and pulled out a 2-1 victory.
Perella praised the play of Curley keeper George Mayer. "George has been making three or four big saves every game," he said. "We play very well in spurts and then seem to lose our poise."
Mayer seems unfazed by his teammates' defensive lapses.
"The hardest shots I face are in practice," said Mayer. "I guess Anthony [Celenza] has the hardest shot on a volley, but I think Jeff [Merryman] has the harder shot on a settled ball."
Celenza already has 11 goals and nine assists, despite being slowed by a nagging thigh injury. He and Merryman are complemented by Franco Pastore, who, in soccer vernacular, is a "digger." Pastore runs down the ball, sets the attack and triggers most of the fast breaks.
The Friars will need all three in top form tomorrow to overtake the Gaels, led by Steve Matcuk (13 goals, six assists).
* Arundel's Gary Carpenter won the Anne Arundel County and district golf titles last year and promptly played "like a sophomore" in the state tournament. The junior will have the opportunity to make amends Thursday and Friday at the University of Maryland's golf course.
"Gary's playing very consistently now," said Wildcat coach Carol Nutt, whose team has qualified four players for this week's tournament. "In fact, they all are."
"They" also would include senior Kurt Osborne, senior Graham Niemi and freshman Paul Wills. All are capable of shooting under 80, but Carpenter, who had won the county title by 5 strokes last year, needed three playoff holes to repeat this fall. The good news: His opponent, who also shot a 75 for the first 18 holes, was Osborne, Carpenter's teammate.
"As a team, we should have a pretty good chance [at the state title], but I understand Walt Whitman is supposed to be very strong," said Nutt, who twice has had teams tie for third at the state level.
* The much anticipated duel between Amanda White of Dulaney and Meghan McCarthy of Robinson High (Fairfax, Va.) at Saturday's Georgetown Prep Cross Country Classic never occurred. McCarthy did not post. White did, and she broke the 5-K course record by 19 seconds. She finished about one minute ahead of the field in 18:16. Milford Mill's Mike Mamo was the top area finisher in the boys seeded race, placing 10th.
"The heat [82 degrees] had all the runners just a bit off form," said Dulaney coach Bob Dean.
* Broadneck sweeper back Brenden Collins played a key role as the Bruins registered their fifth and sixth consecutive shutouts against North County and Northeast last week. Collins ranks No. 10 in his class and hopes to land an appointment to one of the military academies.
Incidentally, Severna Park and Calvert Hall have had seven shutouts each. Top-ranked Centennial has had five.