Calvert Hall wins second MIAA title swimmingly

Unlike last year's thriller, Cardinals in control vs. top-seeded Gilman, 11-6

Water polo

October 27, 2002|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

This time, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association water polo championship wasn't defined by a last-second goal or a miracle comeback.

Calvert Hall didn't need either one.

The Cardinals walked into the MIAA championships yesterday at Loyola Blakefield as the third seed, and left the pool with the championship plaque, besting top-seeded Gilman, 11-6, for their second straight title.

It is the third year the MIAA has sanctioned the five-team water polo league. Calvert Hall won last year, edging Loyola, 4-3, on a goal with one second left in overtime.

Yesterday, Calvert Hall (13-4 overall, 7-3 league) jumped out to a 5-0 first-quarter lead before putting the Greyhounds (10-7, 7-3) away in the final quarter.

Calvert Hall got to the final with an 8-6 victory over second-seeded Loyola, and Gilman beat McDonogh, 9-3, in the other semifinal earlier yesterday.

"These games today were the best two games that my guys played all year, without a doubt," said Cardinals coach Don Anderson, still dripping after he and JV coach George Kropp were thrown in the pool during the post-game celebration. "Putting it together the way we did, this was their day today."

Steve Fulcher scored three goals and juniors Mark Rich and Alex Thomas added two each for Calvert Hall, which split two games with Gilman in the regular season.

Gilman was led by senior Gibbs Burke, who scored four times. Burke's goal, coupled with Yuchi Zhang's tally early in the fourth, made it 7-5, but the Greyhounds got no closer.

"They're tough and they always make a push for it, but I was confident we'd hold them off," said junior Chris McGaunn.

Two minutes into the opening quarter - teams play four seven-minute quarters - Fulcher put the Cardinals on the board with a low shot past Greyhounds goalie Andrew Marshak and inside the far post.

Then, Nick Kendall and Thomas scored, followed by Fulcher's second.

The early deficit didn't faze the Greyhounds. In the first MIAA title game two years ago, Gilman trailed 6-1 in the fourth before beating Loyola, 7-6.

"There wasn't a whole lot of anxiety there, until the fourth quarter when they kept scoring," said Greyhounds coach Scot Budde.

Zhang's goal made the score 7-5 with 3:40 left, but Thomas threw a home a rebound from in front 25 seconds later, and Rich added another, placing the game in the hands of the Calvert Hall defense and goalie Chris Nitzel.

"Last year, [tenacious "D"] was our motto, and we followed up on that and added a little more offense," Thomas said.

It was a big moment for many of the Cardinals, but especially for Kropp, who started the school's water polo program at the club level in 1973 and has seen a traditional West Coast sport achieve slow but steady growth in the MIAA.

Many of the Cardinals started playing the sport to get in shape for swimming, but now do the opposite. It's a grueling game, played with six players and a goalie on each side. The pools are deep enough to require treading of water for much of the game.

Trying to prevent players from throwing a ball into a netted goal is a defender, who is allowed some contact when the opposing player he is marking has the ball.

"This has gotten so much bigger," Kropp said, "not just at Calvert Hall, but in the whole area."

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