St. Mary's turns back St. Paul's for title, 1-0 Corradini's first-half goal caps Saints' 21-2 season, KO's defending champs

MIAA B soccer

November 08, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

A strong second-half team all season, St. Mary's took a gamble in yesterday's MIAA B Conference championship game against St. Paul's, opting to start the game against the wind at Johns Hopkins University.

Saints coach Jamie McNealey figured if his group could get through the first 40 minutes tied or even down a goal, they would be in good position for the second half.

The No. 13-ranked Saints did better, getting a goal from senior standout Kevin Corradini midway through the first half and making it stand up to knock off defending champion St. Paul's, 1-0.

St. Mary's closed out its finest season ever at 21-2, getting through the conference schedule perfect at 16-0 to claim its first outright championship. In 1995, the Saints shared the conference crown with St. Paul's.

With only one starter gone from last year's 11-6-3 team that improved considerably as the season went on, McNealey wasn't surprised by his team's success. He was aware he had an opportunity coming into this year and his Saints made the most of it.

"We knew we had a very good team and when they came into the season with the right mental attitude, it let us establish what we wanted to," said McNealey.

Corradini, a four-year starter, established himself as a thorn in the side of the Crusaders (16-6-1) all season. He scored a goal and added an assist in a 2-0 win the first time the teams met and then got the overtime goal in a 1-0 win the second time around.

So when St. Paul's junior keeper Mike Ciattei was issued a yellow card for handling the ball outside the penalty area, temporarily sending in Crusaders' backup keeper J. P. McAfee and awarding the Saints a direct kick from 25 yards out, Corradini took the free kick. He made no mistake, finding the left corner to give the Saints the 1-0 lead.

"I knew the keeper was cold and that's a shot I practice all the time in my backyard. I just struck it well," he said.

The Crusaders dominated the first half, but were unable to finish zTC on a number of chances. Their best flurry came with seven minutes left when Tyler Tracy's shot hit the post and Alex Kopicki's rebound was turned aside.

With the Crusaders sending a lot of their speed up front, McNealey pulled Corradini, usually a midfielder, back to the sweeper position. There he was able to contain the Crusaders' attack to help protect the one-goal lead.

The second half was played on more even terms with the Saints eventually wearing down the Crusaders in the last 20 minutes to maintain control.

The loss doesn't tarnish a fine season for the Crusaders, who lost 10 seniors from last year's championship team, but still were able return to try to defend their crown.

"Getting back to the championship game is a credit to the boys," said coach Howard Schindler.

"We have nothing to be ashamed of."

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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