The only thing that separated top-ranked Archbishop Curley and No. 3 Calvert Hall in yesterday's sixth annual Alumni Cup was a controversial goal that gave the host Cardinals a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
It was the second time in less than a week that Calvert Hall has beaten the No. 1-ranked team in the area. On Friday, the Cardinals defeated McDonogh, another Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference team.
Yesterday's victory gives Calvert Hall sole possession of first place in the conference and improves its record to 4-1-1 in the Alumni Cup rivalry, as these teams' matchups are called.
The Cardinals scored the winning goal when Christian Barreiro threaded a pass from just past midfield to Makala Hairston, who collected the ball in full stride, outran the Curley defenders and then pushed the ball past Friars goalie John Connolly.
The Curley coaches and players protested that Hairston was offside, but Hairston said he was just in front of his defender before running on to the ball and scoring the goal.
"I saw Barreiro was going to play a great ball and did what we had to do to score," Hairston said. "This game meant a lot to us. We just wanted to win the Cup and bring it back home."
The game was typical of the Curley and Calvert Hall rivalry, featuring exceptional flashes of skill mixed with hard-nosed tackles. The Cardinals were the better team for much of the first half, using their wide field to develop several attacks.
Calvert Hall (6-2, 4-0) opened the scoring with 25:50 left in the half when Jason McFadden took a short pass from sophomore Brian Payne and found the corner of the net with a low shot from just inside the penalty area.
Curley coach Barry Stitz challenged his team at halftime to play more physically, and the Friars responded by dominating most of the second half. Curley (10-1, 4-1) tied the score with 27 minutes left when talented forward Bash Kamara took a pass from Mikias Teketele and ripped a shot past Calvert Hall goalie Mike Brashears.
The Cardinals regained the lead six minutes later when Barreiro chased down a ball that was cleared from the back line and found Hairston.
"He was onside," Barreiro said. "I got the ball out wide and he was making a good run. He had good coverage, but he found a gap between the backs and I just slipped the ball through. Makala finished brilliantly."
Calvert Hall coach Andy Moore said he could not definitively tell whether Hairston was onside, but he said those types of calls "even out over the course of a career." However, Moore said the key to the game was that the Cardinals continued to attack after giving up the tying goal.