Inspired Curley finally beats Calvert Hall Friars lose Merryman, still win title, 3-2 Boys soccer

November 11, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Curley keeper Dennis Merryman missed about 70 minutes of a pretty good game against No. 4 Calvert Hall yesterday. By now, however, there's little doubt his Friars teammates have told him about it.

Merryman, the Friars' starting goalie, collided with Calvert Hall's Chad Piunti, breaking his right leg in two places 9:56 into the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championship game at Essex Community College.

But the No. 3 Friars (16-0-1) turned a potentially devastating event into an inspirational one, building a 3-0 lead over the 16-time champion Cardinals (15-2-1) en route to a 3-2 victory.

An overflow crowd of over 2,500 witnessed the Friars' completion of the school's first-ever unbeaten season despite the absence of Merryman, who had a school-record 12 shutouts last year.

Sweeper Mike Libber got his fourth assist on the game's initial goal by Guiliano Celenza in the first half. Libber's fifth goal -- on a direct kick in the second half -- put his team ahead, 2-0.

"Whenever we've lost big games, it's always been against Calvert Hall," said Libber, a second-team All-Baltimore City/County pick last year. "On junior varsity, we're winning 2-0 and we lost in a shootout. Last year, we lost, 3-0, in the championship. But this year, we're undefeated champions."

Midfielders Mike Bailey and Steve Ball were members of last year's team, which had hopes of winning in only its second title-game appearance -- the first was a 4-1 loss in 1988 to Calvert Hall.

"Last year was a real heart-breaker -- winning just feels so much better," said Ball, who assisted on Shawn Pasko's game-winning goal with 21:26 left.

Bailey said, "We knew we were a better team. All year, we told ourselves, 'we're going to win it.' "

Curley, which shared the co-championship with Patterson in 1979, has made at least a semifinal appearance in five of coach Pep Perrella's seven seasons.

With injuries to key players, Perrella said he "needed all the luck in the world," so he pocketed a lock of hair from his 8-month-old daughter, Gabby.

"Two of my starters were out already. And Bailey was at 50 percent. [Defender] Chris Shanahan played on a severely sprained ankle when I thought he wouldn't play at all," said Perrella.

"Losing Dennis in the first 10 minutes could have been an absolute blow, but it helped us emotionally."

Just 1:12 after Merryman was taken by ambulance to Franklin Square Hospital, Libber mis-kicked a loose ball toward Celenza in the box. The freshman striker slammed in a 10-yard bullet before goalkeeper Scott Simmons could react.

With 27:31 left in the game, Libber made it, 2-0, freezing Simmons with a blast to the upper corner to his left. Pasko knocked in his game-winner about six minutes later.

The Friars then held off a late Cardinals' rally.

Calvert Hall's Ryan Lachowicz pounded a loose ball past reserve keeper John Mazson (six saves) with 19:51 left, as did teammate Jeff Link a little over four minutes later.

From there, the Cardinals, who out-shot the Friars, 24-10, overall, made an all-out effort to score the equalizer -- ending with Ryan Smith's 12-yarder that was inches wide of the far post with seven seconds left.

Libber, Shanahan and stopper Greg Loftus handled the bulk of Calvert Hall's attack, including Piunti, Mike Lance and Steve Rottman, but Mazson came through when called upon.

Mazson stopped a 10-yard blast from Ryan Smith, snagged a high floater from 1992 All-Metro midfielder Eric Branham and Lachowicz's soft header from eight yards.

"The second goal pumped us up. We wanted this real bad, but just couldn't get the third and fourth goal in," said Lachowicz. "They're a very good team, very skillful. The first half, they just out-played us and we couldn't pick it up in the second half."

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