The 2019 MIAA season is a wrap. Congratulations to the three conference champions, Calvert Hall, Archbishop Curley and Annapolis Area Christian.
All three conference championship games were mostly blowouts. Maybe one of these years we will get an overtime game in the A-conference championship. But it was another fun and exciting season in the toughest conferences in the country.
Calvert Hall has now won three straight A-conference titles, which has never been done before. And the Cardinals now have the most championships (5). Calvert Hall doesn’t lose that much to graduation and will be returning a team in 2020 that are already favorites to win it all again in 365 days. St. Mary’s Annapolis head coach Victor Lilly said that Calvert Hall is deep and strong as a team which is spot on. Lilly also pointed out that its not the Cardinals attack thats tough to defend its their midfield. “Its’ Their midfield, they have horses that can run up and down the field all day long. There athleticism at the midfield, thats the problem (to defend).”
It’s true, Calvert Hall’s first seven goals were all scored by seven different goal scorers, most of which came from the midfield. Grant Mitchell and Cole Herbert had hot sticks early which is not a good thing if your an opposing defense.
Calvert Hall head coach Bryan Kelly gave his face-off guys a ton of praise in the Cardinals’ 15-7 victory. Chris Cottone and Tyler Dunn were winning face-offs and the guys coming off the wings were excellent as well. “That was the big difference, those guys are a dominating force (on face-offs), we did a great jib getting after the ground balls against great players like BJ Burlace and Alex Wicks.”
The Cardinals have had so much success this season, going 10-0 in conference and 17-1 overall, only losing to Hill Academy in overtime in March. It makes you wonder as someone who observes this team winning and playing so well how they remain focused and not get caught up in the outside chatter, whether it be negative or positive, Kelly went to the bible to get his message across to his team. “I shared with them the story when Jesus walking on water in the storm and rain. And Peter asked can he walk on water, and when he focused on Jesus nothing bothered him when he walked on water. But when he lost focus he sunk. So if you start to focus on people saying how good or say negative things we are we are going to sink. Just focus on your job and having fun.”
And that what this years was all about for Kelly and the 2019 Cardinals. Last season was an emotional season with the loss of assistant coach and just a great guy in Dave Huntley and then later in the year when one of the players father passed away.
“They just had fun and played, and they just play for one another. Last year was a lot. it was heavy. It was incredible for us to do what we did last year with all of that adversity. This year these guys understood that their are things bigger than lacrosse. And when you know that this is just a game and doesn’t define you as a person. It’s just a game. If you think you’re special just because you’re a good lacrosse player, then you’re in trouble. They cared about each other and cared about being the best that they could be.”
The Friars captured their first B-conference championship in over 10 years, finishing with an 11-1 conference record and 14-3 overall. Junior faceoff-man Nate Rollins was definitely the most athletic and entertaining player on the field during that championship against Glenelg. Winning 10 of 18 faceoffs and scored three goals and an assist.
“We have a good class of kids, good juniors and seniors. we knew we would be strong defensively we had a lot parts to replace offensively,we just got better offensively throughout the year,” said Curley head coach Chris Ogle. “We just really focused on playing hard and playing smart.”
The Dragons defense played a pretty tight zone defense on Curley in their games during the regular season. Curley beat GCS 11-7 in April and lost by one goal to the Dragons in early May. Ogle said that his offense had been preparing for the Dragons zone D since the first time they played this season. “They sat in the zone in the second half and we knew it was coming. We really just focused on playing against the zone and exciting, we had some really good looks the second time we played them (In May), we just didn’t finish. We really focused on finishing the ball this week.”
For the Curley defense it was all about just winning the individual matches and on Friday the Friars did that.
Ogle described Rollins as the spark plug for the Curley team, and he was. “His ability to not only win face-offs but also play offense and also play defense, he is a true do-it-all midfielder.
He really gets us going and he had an outstanding game.”