BEL AIR — St. Mary's boys soccer team picked the worst day to have its worst game of the year.
In yesterday's 5-0 Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference tournament loss to Harford County's John Carroll (13-3-1), the Saints (8-8-1) spent more time picking their shots than taking them and made more bad choices than good ones.
"We didn't get the shots that we wanted, and when we did, we justheld onto the ball when we'd get it up near the goal," said senior striker Eamon McCormick.
The Patriots enjoyed an 8-1 advantage in first-half shots, including Frank Sweeney's seventh goal of the season, which he bounced in from about 20 yards out, over the outstretched hands of St. Mary's keeper J. D. Gattie (11 saves) for a 1-0 lead.
Until Sweeney's goal, St. Mary's alert back line of sweeper Rob Tobin, stopper Steve Marsella and fullbacks Mike Craven and Kevin Reichardt kicked or headed the ball away before the Patriots could score.
The Saints' offense, meanwhile, successfully spread the Patriots' defense, but garnered only Chris Canella's header, which went inches wide of the goal's left post.
The visitors consistently passed up opportunities or waited too long, allowing the Patriots' defense to regroup or clear the ball.
Under the constant pressure, the Saints' defense finally wilted with just over 14 minutes gone in the second half.
Gattie's short punt was intercepted by John Carroll's Bill Ashman on the Saints' side of midfield. Ashman dribbled twice, covering about 10 yards unopposed, then let fly a volley that went in the net's upper corner to Gattie's right.
With 23 minutes, 2 seconds left,Sweeney collected the rebound of Jarrod Deal's point-blank shot, which was blocked by Gattie. The ball rolled quickly to Sweeney, who punched in the game's third goal from 6 yards away past a grounded Gattie.
"We weren't up for the first half. We were pretty flat," said Ashman. "I felt we came out with more intensity in the second half, and when we got it together, they just kind of went down."
McCormicksaid, "After that second goal, we just kind of fell apart. The bottom line is we just weren't letting the ball rip. Basically, we should have been taking more shots."
But not like the shot taken on a John Carroll player by St. Mary'sstriker Todd Lord.
With 21 minutes left in the game, Lord (14 goals) -- having had the ball cleanly stripped on a sliding tackle by an opponent -- marched up behind the player and back-tackled him to the ground.
The escapade earned Lord an immediate ejection, and John Carroll's Mark Heimerl scored the Patriots' fourth goal less than a minute later.
The Saints, the tournament's third seed out of Division II of the MSA, were forced to play with just 10 players for the rest of the game against the second-seededPatriots of Division I.
The Patriots got their final goal from Frank Demuth with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
"We started off well and played a halfway decent in the first half. And when we beat good teams, that's how we did it," said first-year coach Brent Boone."That second goal took a lot out of us, but this team is not a better team than us. But they were today."
St. Mary's began the year with a promising 5-2 record before Lord reinjured an ankle against St. Paul's on Oct. 2. Lord, who had nine goals and an assist at the time,was forced to miss the next four games and the Saints went 1-3, including a 2-0 loss to Calvert Hall.
When Lord returned against Gibbons, the Saints' best defender, stopper Bart Jaeger, exited in the same game with a broken collarbone. He has not played since.