At every cut, at every turn, Antonio Celenza's patience -- and the pain in the recovering Achilles' tendon of his right ankle -- was being tested.
If the Curley striker wasn't getting his point-blank shots smothered by Mount St. Joseph goalie John Smith (six saves) yesterday, then he was getting banged around by the Gaels stopper Sean Gaiser.
But, with six minutes left, Celenza had enough room to net the game-winning goal off a cross from Andrew Kowalevicz for a 2-1 soccer victory in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Division II game.
The win raised the fourth-ranked Friars' division record to 8-0 (9-1 overall) and dropped the seventh-ranked Gaels to 4-2-1, 7-2-1. A 2-0 Friars win in the season opener avenged three one-goal losses last year to the Gaels, including one in the MSA tournament semifinals.
"This was my toughest game so far and my most rewarding," said Celenza, who scored his eighth goal despite the injured ankle and shin splints that forced him to miss the first five games.
Kowalevicz did most of the work on the final goal, out-dueling two Mount St. Joseph defenders in the corner, then dribbling into the penalty area before lifting the ball to Celenza. With his left side facing the goal, Celenza redirected the ball with his right foot, and his shot slipped just under the crossbar over Smith's outstretched hands.
The Gaels had a last chance to tie the game with 10 seconds left, but a 15-yard, direct kick by Steve Matcuk bounced off the crossbar.
At the 25-minute mark of the second half, Curley got a break when Smith was called for advancing the ball illegally in the penalty box.
That set up an indirect kick at the top corner of the box to Smith's left. Ryan Hax, with his back to the goal, tapped the ball to Mike Gizzi, who lined a low shot to Smith's left for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, however, the Gaels' Kenny Angyelof tied the game at 1-1 off a corner kick from Dave Carrigan.