After each goal that he scored on Friday night, Andrew Gavlin’s confidence grew. And every time one of his shots found the back of the net, he let out a primal yell as his teammates surrounded him to celebrate.
With just over two minutes left, Centennial was holding onto a two-goal lead over host Mt. Hebron and was looking to simply run out the clock.
But Gavlin had other plans. He wanted to put an exclamation point on his masterpiece.
Starting from behind the cage, Gavlin wrapped around and fired the ball in – capping off a career night with his seventh goal of the contest to help the visiting Eagles earn a 10-7 victory over the Vikings, ruining their Senior Night.
“I was just hungry,” Gavlin said. “The shots haven’t really been dropping for me as of late. Having a couple go in, it was pretty sweet.”
Mt. Hebron had plans on slowing down Stephen Latona – the county’s second leading goal scorer. With the attention focused on Latona, Gavlin stepped into the scoring role.
“They wouldn’t slide away from our shooter Stephen, so I took advantage of them not sliding,” Gavlin said. “I felt like they were daring me to shoot.”
Centennial coach Nick Kellinger knew that someone other than Latona would need to shoulder the offensive load.
“Andrew Gavlin stepped up big time,” Kellinger said. “Normally a lot of our goals come from Latona and Mt. Hebron knew that. They had a great game plan against him and we needed other guys to step up. Normally Gavlin is the assist guy but tonight he couldn’t be stopped.”
The rivals met earlier this spring in Mt. Hebron’s Fight for 5 Tournament over the Easter Break. The Vikings came away with a 9-7 win and Centennial has been awaiting the rematch.
“Since the first day of preseason workouts in March, we’ve been talking about this day,” said Latona, who has scored 55 goals this season. “We’ve had this date circled since December. We knew it was their senior night and it couldn’t have gotten any better.”
Through the first three quarters, the teams traded the lead back-and-forth. Neither squad went ahead by more than one goal as there were five ties.
Adam Huber scored his second goal of the game to break a 4-4 tie midway through the third quarter. Thanks to Gavlin, it would be Mt. Hebron’s final lead.
The junior attackman knotted the score with a high-to-high laser before firing in a shot over his left shoulder with 42 seconds left in the period to give the Eagles a 6-5 advantage.
Gavlin then began the fourth quarter with an extra-man goal assisted by Teddy Sylvia to open up a two-score lead. Latona struck again 14 seconds later to make it 8-5.
“We’ve always been a slow-starting team,” Latona said. “We came together before the (fourth) quarter and said, ‘Let’s finish this.’ That’s what we did. Andrew got one, then I got one and Quinn got one. We were off to the races.”
Jake Stevens tried to keep the Vikings close, scoring twice over the next 30 seconds but a goal by Western and Gavlin’s final strike with 1:27 remaining closed the door.
“Centennial just played smarter than we did,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy said. “We forced too many things, trying to dodge through three or four people. The kids wanted to do so well (on senior night) that they just didn’t play smart.”
Stevens finished with four goals and two assists – including a tough behind the back shot in the second quarter – in his final regular season home game. He finishes the season with a league best 60 goals.