Calvert Hall coach Bill Karpovich calls Essex Community College his "home away from home." Coaching there in 11 Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference title games over the last 12 years has made him comfortable with the surroundings.
Yesterday, his No. 2 Cardinals gave their coach another dose of home cooking. With a 4-1 win over No. 10 Mount St. Joseph, Calvert Hall served up its second conference title in a row, and 15th in the past 25 years.
Karpovich said, however, that after all the wins, he still savors each. "I still get a charge out of it," he said. "You still see me smiling, don't you?"
The coach's smile was evident in the second half, when the Cardinals (17-1) scored four unanswered goals to break open a scoreless game.
St. Joe's defense had thwarted several Calvert Hall scoring opportunities in the first half, but J. J. Kremer's goal 5 minutes, 45 seconds into the second half started it.
"In the first half, we weren't getting our crossing passes off," said Kremer, who dodged three St. Joe defenders en route to his goal. "At halftime, though, our coach really gave us a tongue-lashing, and things really opened up after that."
Just 3:55 after Kremer's score, Bryan Bugarin scored the first of his two goals, acrobatically heading in crossing pass from John Vasilios to make it 2-0. He then took a nifty feed from Kremer and grounded it into the net to increase the lead to 3-0.
"In a game like this, when you play so well for an hour, that first score can really cause a letdown," said Mount St. Joseph coach Mike Dolan, whose team ended its best season in years at 16-7. "Once they got the first one, the others came quickly after."
James Oh scored a late goal for four Cardinals scores in 19:26. For the Gaels, who had stayed back in their defensive posture for most of the way, hoping to silence the explosive Cardinals offense, this spelled the end.
"We came out in the second half and started stringing three and four passes together," said Karpovich, whose team outshot St. Joe, 23-6. "Once we got into our game, we got opportunity after opportunity to score."
Karpovich cleared his bench with more than 10 minutes left in the game.
The Mount St. Joseph goal came with 1:22 left, when Maury LaPointe scored off a corner kick by Vince Craig. Dolan said that took a little of the sting away from the defeat.
But he knew going in that it wouldn't be easy playing on Calvert Hall's other home turf.
Said Dolan: "It's been a great season for us, but Calvert Hall is just a couple steps above."