Linardi's OT goal helps McDonogh take A Conference title from Gilman

St. Paul's wins B Conference crown

Gerstell Academy wins C Conference

November 05, 2011|By Todd Karpovich, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Gilman goalie Andrew Harris thwarted several scoring chances by No. 1 McDonogh in Saturday night’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game, making acrobatic saves that had the Eagles simply shaking their heads in disbelief.

The No. 2 Greyhounds also made sure that two and sometimes three defenders focused on closing down McDonogh’s Mike Gamble, and the striker with 34 goals going into the game was kept off the board.

But after neither team scored during regulation, the Eagles’ Matt Linardi emerged as the hero, lofting a ball from about 12 yards out that somehow went over Harris’ head and into the goal with two minutes left in the first overtime for a 1-0 victory in front of nearly 2,000 at Archbishop Spalding.

Linardi also scored an overtime winner against Gilman during the regular season. This goal gave McDonogh (19-2-1) its sixth title and first since 2008, avenging last season’s loss to the Greyhounds (17-4-1) in the final.

“If it was any other goalie, we might have had three or four goals and won easily,” Linardi said. “[Harris] kept them in the game. We felt very confident because we’ve been working hard all year. We deserved it.”

Only one goal separated McDonogh and Gilman in their two games during the regular season. The teams tied 0-0 in the first meeting and the Eagles won 1-0 in the second matchup on Linardi’s goal.

Gilman nearly took the lead Saturday night on a header by Christian Wulff that shaved the cross bar midway through the first half. The Greyhounds also had several effective counter-attacks in a game was physical from the opening whistle and featured two yellow cards on each team.

“These kids have been unbelievable,” McDonogh coach Steve Nichols said. “It’s amazing we scored on that shot, because Harris is Superman back there. Some of those saves he made were amazing. But we proved we’re the best team. They defend better than anybody else. The second half we were pounding them and he kept making saves. You have to give our defense credit too. We did not allow a goal to them all year.”

Gamble managed to make several dangerous runs across the penalty area despite the added attention of the Greyhounds’ back line. Midfielder Malcolm Harris had a chance to give the Eagles with three scoring chances in the final 15 minutes, but his shots were either stopped by Andrew Harris or they missed the goal.

In the overtime, McDonogh continued to attack and was finally rewarded.

Gilman coach Jon Seal spent several minutes after the game consoling his players, including his goalkeeper.

"We just felt we couldn’t absorb pressure like that for 80 minutes,” Seal said. "[Andrew] Harris proved why he is a two-time All-American. It was just a great championship game.”

B Conference: First-year St. Paul's boys soccer coach Daniel Skelton wasted little time putting his stamp on the program.

To get battle-tested for play in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference, Skelton scheduled five consecutive games against A Conference teams to open the season.

St. Paul's went 0-4-1 in those games, but then went undefeated the rest of the way, reeling off 19 consecutive wins, culminating with a 2-1 victory over Friends for the team's second consecutive conference title Saturday at Spalding.

“We knew those [early] games would come in handy when we got to games like this,” Skelton said. “It was totally different teams throughout the course of the season. It took some time to get used to the guys, but once we clicked, we didn't look back.”

St. Paul's has now won five B conference titles.

Sam Tana gave St. Paul's a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute when he flicked in William Tighe's free kick inside the penalty area. James Mugele added to the lead five minutes later when he fired a shot from about 25 yards out.

“We got better every game,” Tana said. “One thing that really helped us was that we learned from our mistakes. Every game we won wasn't perfect.”

Friends (12-6-1) cut the margin to 2-1 on a goal by Jimmy Dendrinos after he got past his defender inside the penalty area and fired the ball inside the far post with 14 minutes remaining.

C Conference: David Warburton and Ben Higgins each scored two goals for Gerstell Academy, which beat Sts. Peter & Paul, 6-1, for its first C Conference title Saturday at Spalding.

Braden Silcott and Casey Gruber also had goals for the Falcons (11-2-1), who scored four times in the opening nine minutes of the second half to put the game away. Turner Lacaze had a goal for St. Peter & Paul (10-3-1).

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