In a game that saw all its scoring action take place within the first eleven minutes, Centennial girls soccer united behind Megan Oliver’s two goals on Thursday to edge visiting Mt. Hebron, 2-0.
Coach Steve Baxter told Oliver before the game that she was going to be the star, and the sophomore certainly did not disappoint.
“We decided in this game that we would work on pushing someone up front, and pushing the two outside wings in, so we could work the outside space,” said Oliver of her team’s game plan as they prepared to face the Vikings.
Just eight minutes in, the speedy Oliver took a pass from Anna Mitchell up the middle. After beating one defender, Mt. Hebron keeper Jen Skinner moved up in the box to challenge. Oliver made a quick move to elude Skinner, flicking the ball in for the first score of the game.
A little more than two minutes later, Carolyn Eichhorn’s throw into the box set Oliver up for a second goal.
The well-placed ball touched off the foot of Jasmine McCree, and ass the floater arced over a few Vikings defenders, Oliver collected and delivered a shot for the score.
“Eichhorn has the beset throw-in ever,” Oliver said of her teammate.
Following the Eagles’ two quick goals, Mt. Hebron began playing with more life, setting up multiple chances to chip away at the two-goal deficit.
Vikings coach Tim Deppen said personnel changes made a difference, and if a few shots had gone their way, there could have ultimately been a different outcome.
“I think we struggled this year putting together a complete game,” he said. “We missed ten minutes and lost our way, and unfortunately (tonight) was indicative of that.”
The two quick scores put the Eagles up early, but Baxter said he was still uneasy. Getting too many players on the ball, and not moving quickly enough, nearly let the Vikings back in the contest.
“For the first fifteen minutes, we did everything according to plan,” he said. “Then we started trying to touch the ball one too many times…If we move the ball quickly, we’re very effective.”
Baxter said Mt. Hebron was not a team to be taken lightly, praising the “blue collar” mentality that Deppen’s squad plays with.
“If they got some momentum going, we’d be in trouble,” he said.
In the second half, a steady rain limited a lot of what both teams could accomplish. Though Mt. Hebron had many chances, especially late, Centennial senior goalkeeper Lindsay Davis (five saves) kept the shutout intact. In the team’s three playoff games thus far, Davis has yet to yield a score.
With the loss, Mt. Hebron’s season ends on a sour note. Deppen said he was still satisfied with his squad’s overall performance.
“I’m upset with the outcome, but I’m extremely proud with how the girls played out on the field tonight,” he said. “They know how to play a soccer game.”
Deppen especially commended the play of junior Nia Crump, who he called “the driving force behind motivating the team in practice.
“She wants to win, period,” he added.
Centennial’s victory sets up a guaranteed all-Howard County regional championship game.
The Eagles will play the winner of tomorrow night’s match-up between Reservoir and defending 3A state champion River Hill.