Glenelg junior Tyler Wasson acknowledged that for a brief moment he thought Centennial might be able to pull off the upset. The visiting Gladiators trailed by a goal entering the final quarter and their 46-game winning streak against county opponents looked as though it could be in jeopardy.
But Glenelg regrouped and scored the first three goals of the period to edge the Eagles, 6-5, in the season opener.
“Centennial played really well. I thought they had us at one point, but we just kept trying hard and got them in the end,” Wasson said. “It was a little sloppy out there but it’s expected because it’s the first game of the season. We played hard, got our groundballs and worked our way back.”
Wasson scored three goals and added two assists to pace the Gladiators (1-0), last season’s state runner-up. Nick Forrest added a pair of fourth-quarter scores and goalie Landry Marshall collected 10 saves.
Andrew Galvin had a strong game, finishing with two goals and three assists for Centennial (0-1). Stphen Latona added three goals and goalie Bryan Ruygrok stopped seven shots to keep the contest close.
Anthony Pagnotta collected the opening face-off and Glenelg scored on its first possession of the season, a goal by Wasson just 2 minutes, 32 seconds into the contest. From there, however, the Gladiators were marred with off target passes and turnovers.
“Centennial played really well defensively,” coach Josh Hatmaker said. “We threw the ball away quite a bit and maybe that’s rust but it’s not the kind of rust that I accept. When we actually ran things that way we wanted to, it looked good. We got contributions from a lot of guys.”
The Eagles took a 2-1 lead behind two first-quarter goals from Galvin before Wasson knotted the score at 2-2 early in the second quarter on a laser shot from about 10 yards out, and his extra-man goal with 1:40 left in the period made it 3-3 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Marshall proved huge Glenelg with five saves. If not for Marshall’s stellar play in goal, the Eagles could have put the Gladiators in a bigger hole. Centennial took a 4-3 lead after executing on an extra-man opportunty. Latona took a crisp pass from Gavin in front of the cage and fired it in.
The switched came on in the fourth quarter for Glenelg.
Freshman Kevin Wynne scored his first career goal for a 4-4 tie 49 seconds in the frame then Forrest scored back-to-back goals to give the Gladiators a 6-4 lead with 3:50 left in the game.
“I thought that we started off kind of slow but in the fourth quarter everyone stepped up. It was a team effort,” Forrest said. “It was all about staying calm. We were in the same position last year (against them).”
Latona got his completed the hat trick with 1:21 left to make it 6-5. Pagnotta won the ensuing faceoff but a turnover with 39 second left game the Eagles one last chance to force overtime.
Galvin's shot went just wide and Glenelg defender Christian Salandra knocked down the final shot attempt to help pull it out.
After taking the lead in the third quarter, the Eagles had a chance to really pull away but several shots banged off the crossbar, just missing by inches.
“We had a couple shots that just barely missed and another that the ref told me the ball was sitting on the line,” Kellinger said. “If one or two of those goes the other way than we’re talking about result.
“We played them hard and that’s a really good team over there. Defense is our strongest area and we played the type of game that we thought we would. We wanted to play strong defense, keep it close and be right in it at the end.”