The top seeds took care of business Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the regional playoffs.
Marriotts Ridge, the No. 1 team in the 2A North region, defeated Glenelg 5-2, while Centennial, the No. 1 team in the 3A East region, cruised past Howard 6-0.
Both teams now advance, along with county teams Oakland Mills (2A North) and Reservoir (3A East), into semifinal games on Saturday at locations still to be determined.
Marriotts Ridge went ahead 1-0 in its match-up against the Gladiators less than a minute into the game. On a play that started with a long throw, the Mustangs’ Connor Delaney deflected the ball over to Amir Najib, who finished home the first of his two goals on the night.
“It was good to get a lead early, not let them settle in,” said Marriotts Ridge coach Kevin Flynn, whose team hadn’t played in nearly two weeks. “Considering we hadn’t played in so long, it was also nice to have a little leeway to shake out some of the cobwebs.”
Glenelg, which had stressed the importance of guarding set pieces, was forced to play catch-up.
“That was a difficult one to swallow,” Glenelg coach Andy Shearer said. “We had talked about not giving them throw-ins because they’re big, and we let it happen right away. It was an uphill battle from there.”
Marriotts Ridge scored again with 15:16 left in the first half, as Jeff Kammerer finished a crossing pass from Andre Chen. The score stayed that way heading into the half.
After intermission, though, it was Glenelg that struck first. With 23:38 left in regulation, Ian Vincent finished off a cross from Christian Von Rautenkranz on a fast break to close the deficit to one.
“Maybe we relaxed a little after the two-goal lead … but Glenelg played well and they were really good in transition,” Flynn said. “I thought Christian did a lot in the middle to start their break and they got forward really fast.”
Like a veteran team, however, Marriotts Ridge answered. Just 52 seconds after Vincent’s tally, Najib got his second goal off a long throw from Nick Applegate.
Then, four minutes after that, Brad Martinelli took a cross from Kammerer to make it 4-1.
“We had to bury at least one goal to change the momentum and, while Marriotts Ridge answered, I thought it helped,” Shearer said. “They got those goals to go up 3-1 and then 4-1, but there was that feeling that we were in it. I told them going in that we were going to give some goals up, but how we responded was going to be important.
“We stayed positive.”
Glenelg closed back to within two with 17:28 left when Von Rautenkranz finished a feed from Vincent. It was just the second time all year a team had scored twice against the Mustangs.
But, again, Marriotts Ridge bounced back. Applegate headed home a free kick from Sam Willsey with 7:49 remaining to create the final three-goal margin.
Marriotts Ridge 5, Glenelg 2
Goals: MR – Najib 2, Martinelli, Applegate, Kammerer; G – Von Rautenkranz, Vincent.
Assists: MR – Applegate, Kammerer, Willsey, Delaney, Chen; G – Vincent, Von Rautenkranz.
Saves: MR – Miller 8; G – Haussler 10.
Half: 2-0 MR.
Centennial 6, Howard 0
Centennial also went in front at the onset of its game against Howard, getting a goal from Bradley Benson off a long throw from Danny Mooney just three minutes in. The Eagles then kept things going to score three more times before the half and a total of six times by the end of regulation.
“In terms of run of play, I actually thought it took us awhile to get into the game. But when you get a goal on your first opportunity, it helps the rest of the guys relax a little bit more when they get their chances,” Centennial coach Jim Zehe said. “Our composure in front of the goal today was great.”
Heston Priestley and Josh Poole ended up scoring two goals apiece for the Eagles, while Benson and Ian Abee added one each. Six different players registered assists in Centennial’s second-highest offensive output of the season.
The Eagles now advance into a semifinal match-up against Reservoir.
Goals: C – Priestley 2, Poole 2, Benson, Abee.
Assists: C – Benson, Cooper, Mooney, Strothers, Vorel, Wang.
Saves: C – Bicknell 2; Ho – Claunch – 5.
Half: 4-0 C.
Oakland Mills 4, Loch Raven 0