For Oakland Mills senior Hans Kouame, the third time was the charm.
After narrowly missing on a pair of transition opportunities in the first 60 minutes against Centennial Thursday, the Scorpions’ speedy forward got another breakaway chance in the waning minutes of regulation of a tie game and he didn't waste it. Kouame tracked down a lengthy lead pass and finished into the right side of the net with 8:38 remaining for the deciding score in a 2-1 victory over the visiting Eagles.
“I kept waiting for just one more chance and I really felt it was going to come,” Kouame said. “So when I saw the ball out there, I worked 150 percent to get that one in. I knew that my team really needed it.”
Kouame’s late score put the finishing touches on an Oakland Mills (3-2, 5-2) comeback from being down 1-0 at the half. More importantly, it put the team’s 3-0 loss to Mt. Hebron two days earlier officially in the rearview mirror.
“After that loss we really needed to come back out and see where we are,” Kouame said. “Getting this win was very important to us and we worked really hard to make sure we got it.”
In the early stages, it was Centennial (3-1, 5-2) that was clicking. The Eagles controlled things in the middle of the field and got themselves several quality chances.
Savya Konkalmatt was a key facilitator to the transition game.
“We had shuffled our personnel a little before the game and I think that got people a little more engaged than we have been at the beginning of games,” Zehe said. “We had some good energy and a good connection among the guys that we had playing next to each other and that helped get us some nice chances.”
With just more than seven minutes remaining before halftime, Heston Priestley appeared to have capitalized on one of those chances. His header into the net, however, was waived off because of an offside call.
A minute later, with 6:18 on the clock, Martin Lenweiter converted one that counted. His low shot into the left corner made it 1-0 in favor of the Eagles.
Oakland Mills, which nearly scored a goal of its own on a Kouame breakaway in the closing minutes off the first half, wasn’t panicking even though it was behind.
“I went over, very calmly sat on a water cooler and told them it was only a matter of time,” Oakland Mills coach Don Shea said. “You could see our speed was getting to (Centennial), you could see it on their faces, and we weren’t going to stop coming. Patience was key.”
That patience finally paid off midway through the second half, as a long throw from John Caldwell was deflected into the net off the head of Jay Bhylet.
With the score tied, Oakland Mills kept pushing and eventually generated the chance that led to Kouame’s game-winner.
Centennial had eight minutes to try and mount a comeback of its own, but failed to generate any more shots before the final whistle blew.
“My biggest disappointment was our response after both of their goals … so hopefully today was a lesson in that respect because there are definitely going to be more games like this in the county,” Zehe said. “I’m confident there won’t be any long-term effects and we’ll be better next time.”
Oakland Mills 2, Centennial 1
Goals: OM – Bhylet, Caldwell; C – Lenweiter.
Assists: OM – Caldwell.
Saves: OM – Rheingans-Yoo 6; C – Wilson 3.