McDonogh coach Steve Nichols was able to relax during his team's 5-0 rout of Gilman in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal soccer game at McDonogh yesterday.
But a few minutes after he answered his cell phone and found out that two-time defending titlist Calvert Hall had defeated Archbishop Curley, 1-0, in the other semifinal, setting up a 2:30 p.m. championship game Saturday at Calvert Hall's artificial-turf stadium, he was venting about the location.
"No one should have a home-field advantage," he said. "We could have had the College Park field for free, and that was turned down. We finished first in the league with a cushion, and if anyone should get the home-field advantage, it should be us. We have the best field in the league.
"It's wrong when the league puts money before the kids and what's right and just."
MIAA director Rick Diggs said he knew nothing about any offer from the University of Maryland but would consider it if there was one. "This decision [to play at Calvert Hall] was made last winter with the approval of all MIAA athletic directors.
"The MIAA principals have told us to use our own facilities for championships whenever possible. We were at UMBC last year, but it was too expensive and the field is too flat. We need a secure place that can seat 3,000 people, and Calvert Hall is perfect."
Gilman (12-9-2) started 0-4 in the league but went on to compile an 8-7-1 league record, including wins over Loyola and Curley in league play and Loyola in the tournament quarterfinal.
The Greyhounds also nearly upset second-ranked Calvert Hall, losing, 2-1, in overtime, and beat nationally ranked Georgetown Prep. But they were flat yesterday.
Gilman was outshot, 16-3, and didn't look as if belonged on the same field with the Eagles, who used a lot of subs.
First-year Greyhounds coach John Seal, whose father, Bill, was the McDonogh coach for 25 years and who coached at McDonogh as an assistant for 11 years, told his players that they had a great season and not to hang their heads.
"We just lost to a great team," he said.
Gilman had not been in an MIAA playoff since 1995 and recorded its most wins in nine years.
Top-ranked McDonogh (19-2-2) gained the championship game for the seventh straight year, having lost in the last three title games, including the last two to Calvert Hall. McDonogh has won two titles during that time.
Its first goal against Gilman was scored by Alex Jonas in the 22nd minute off an assist by Jon Ports. It was Jonas' first goal this season.
That score held up until the 48th minute, when Xavier Rock scored on a beautiful sliding shot off an assist by Matt Beckman. David Reid, Collins Carey and freshman Jake Levin also scored.