At the end of a long opening week, one that featured four games in seven days, Liberty got itself a momentum-building victory on Thursday night on the road against Centennial.
Lions’ senior Wes Oneto finished off a hat trick by converting the game-winning score with 6:25 remaining in double overtime, lifting Liberty to a 3-2 victory over the Eagles. It was the team’s second win of the year, snapping a skid of back-to-back losses against Urbana and River Hill.
“Regarding the schedule, we like to play the best because it better prepares us for later in the season and trying to peak for the playoffs. We consider ourselves to be a top-notch team, so that’s why we challenge ourselves,” said Liberty coach Dave Abarbanel, whose team opened the year with a victory over Westminster. “Credit to Centennial, that’s a great team and they are going to have a great year. They really took it to us at times today. But our kids never stopped battling.”
On the game-winning score, Oneto settled a ball in transition on the right side before splitting a pair of defenders and finishing just under the crossbar.
“I saw the ball get flicked ahead and I saw it out wide. I saw the two (Centennial) guys wide open with the split, I got the ball through and the keeper was on the ground so I just chipped him,” Oneto said. “All night, we noticed they had a high backline so we were trying to work the ball through the midfield out wide and then work it back to the guys up top. It worked pretty well.”
While Liberty (2-2) and Oneto made the most of their chances throughout the game, Centennial (1-1) found itself on the other end of the spectrum.
The Eagles did get an early first-half score from Hamzah Elhabashy to grab a 1-0 lead and then scored again, following Oneto’s first score, on a hard shot by Ammar Narmouq in the final seconds before halftime to head into the break up 2-1.
But, in the second half and overtime periods, Centennial had chance after chance that just missed. The Eagles ended up with triple the amount of opportunities that the Lions did overall, but big saves by Liberty goalie Justin Brookhart (12 saves) and Centennial shots that went just wide kept the game tight.
“Long story short, we had plenty of opportunities that we should have put away that we didn’t,” Centennial coach Mario Moonasingh said. “It comes down to needing to work together a little more, building off each other’s movements off the ball. The chances were certainly there, so now hopefully moving forward we will finish.”
With 27:11 left in regulation, Oneto got the equalizer to knot the score at 2-2. Centennial controlled possession the rest of the second half, but couldn’t find the net.
Then, after a scoreless first overtime, Liberty struck for the golden goal. Oneto, who had two of the team’s goals in a 4-3 loss to Urbana over the weekend, was a one-man wreaking crew.
“He’s a beast out there, there’s no other way to put it,” Abarbanel said. “We’re dealing with some injuries and he just put the team on his back. Him and a couple other guys, like our goalie Justin Brookhart, were phenomenal tonight.”
On the other side, Moonasingh said the loss stings but getting a game like this out of the team’s system early could be a good thing.
“Trust me, this leaves a bad taste for them and in that respect, it’s probably good to get it out now, so that we can move forward,” Moonasingh said. “We are going to be in a lot more situations like today and they need to know how to handle it.”
Both Centennial and Liberty will be back in action on Saturday.
Liberty 3, Centennial 2 2OT
Goals: L – Oneto 3; C – Elhabashy, Oneto.
Assists: C – Elhabashy.
Saves: L – Brookhart 12; C – Vepa 3, Russell 4.
Mt. Hebron 2, Oakdale 1
After falling behind 1-0 early on, the Vikings battled back for another key early-season road victory, this time beating the defending 3A state champions. Mt. Hebron got the equalizer right before halftime when Michael Yacynych headed home a corner kick from Ethan Bishop.
Later, in the second half, Johnny Linsenmeyer ended up scoring the game winner on a header as well off another corner kick from Bishop. Torey Jones made seven saves for the Vikings at goalie to help secure the win down the stretch.
Mt. Hebron is now 2-0 on the year.
Catonsville 1, Oakland Mills 0
Meade 3, Long Reach 1
Wilde Lake 4, Southern 0 (Wednesday)
The Wildecats opened their season with the shutout victory. Wilde Lake got the scoring started early with Kofi Bonsu finishing after an initial shot by Jack Swain. Then, before halftime, the lead increased to two when Noah Sutker headed home a corner kick served in by freshman Kyle Eylanbekov.
In the second half, Kevin Comeaux found Eylanbekov inside the box to make it 3-0. The finishing touches on the four-goal win came when Conor Mackey slotted a pass through to Denzel Pinyin.
Goalies Gerald Van Tassel and JP Dixon combined for the shutout.
Wilde Lake will be back in action at the Arundel Soccer Tournament this weekend.