Fulcher rises, takes Calvert Hall to crown

Senior's leaping goal downs Loyola, 9-8, for third MIAA title in a row

Water polo

High Schools

October 26, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Calvert Hall water polo coach Don Anderson knew it was coming.

So with his Cardinals in the midst of celebrating a thrilling 9-8 victory over Loyola and their third straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association water polo crown, Anderson was readying himself for his ceremonial plunge into the Loyola Blakefield pool.

"I took my wallet out this year, so I guess I am getting used to this," said Anderson, whose broad grin suggested that he didn't mind being dripping wet at all. "The last two times they threw me in, I still had it in my pocket, but when the game ended, I put it aside this time."

Anderson, whose team finished a 9-0 run through the MIAA and is 14-1 overall, made sure he stressed "when the game ended," because for its duration, the outcome was very much in doubt.

But with 3:11 left in the last of four seven-minute quarters, senior Steve Fulcher elevated to grab a Nick Kendall pass near the far post and whipped it by the outstretched arms of Loyola senior goalie Lee Considine.

Fulcher's second goal stood up as the game-winner, thanks to a heady defensive play by Cardinals senior Alex Thomas, who spent the better part of the game dueling with Dons standout Rory Brannan (105 goals this season and two yesterday).

With just 13 seconds left and Loyola setting up for the tying goal, Thomas deflected a Dons pass intended for Brannan and pushed it toward senior goalie Tim Snow.

"I just decided to shut off one side of the goal and fortunately, they threw it to that side," said Thomas, who also scored twice. "You really don't even have time to think in a tight spot like that."

The Dons (14-4 overall, 8-2 in the six-team MIAA) lost all three games to Calvert Hall this season, including a 10-9 decision in overtime 10 days ago. Loyola advanced to the final with a 13-4 victory over Gilman, while Calvert Hall downed Mount St. Joseph, 10-5, in the other semifinal yesterday.

"We had to play near mistake-free and we made some mistakes today," said Dons coach Keith Schertle, who was complimentary of both teams. "This game showed how great high school water polo can be."

Indeed, it was a raucous atmosphere at Loyola, complete with beating drums, blaring trumpets and continuous chants in the stands between the two sides. Chants of "Go Hall Go" were drown out by refrains of "Beat the Hall."

The action in the pool matched that in the stands with Loyola going up early and Calvert Hall coming back. And after Kendall made the score 7-5 with 4:11 left in the third quarter, the Dons made their final run.

Chris Roil scored consecutive goals to tie it, then Chris Happel caught a Christian Broderick cross-pool pass and fired it past Snow to give the Dons their first lead, 8-7, with 4:44 to play.

But 20 seconds later, the Cardinals' Chris McGaunn tied the score at 8, and then Fulcher's winner spurred Cardinals' chants of "threepeat."

"A lot of things went through our minds after they took that lead, but none of them were `we're going to lose,'" Fulcher said. "There is no way we go out like that, especially not against Loyola."

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