Mount Hebron field hockey moves on to Class 3A East semifinals

Mount Hebron senior Samantha Brookhart learned her lesson two years ago after the Vikings were upset by Centennial in the first round of the playoffs.

On Thursday, Mount Hebron squared off with the Eagles in the Class 3A East regional quarterfinals and Brookhart refused to let history repeat itself.

"In my sophomore year, we beat them (in the regular season) by two or three goals," she said. "When we played them in the first round of the playoffs, it was a big shock to us because it was just one run down the field and they scored. The game was over."

The Vikings broke open a close game in the second half, scoring three times to beat Centennial, 4-0, and advance to the regional semifinals.

The two teams met earlier in the season to the same score, but Mount Hebron coach Jeannatte Ireland knew that this game would be different.

"As always, Cenntenial is much stronger at the end of the season," Ireland said. "We knew that we had to be ready and it took us a lot longer to get on the scoreboard. Once we got going we were good, but we will never forget how they eliminated us two years ago."

The Vikings controlled possession of the ball for most of the first half, but the Eagles defense kept the pressure on. With 13:20 left before halftime, Tianna Wallpher finally broke through.

After being taken down by a defender to set up a penalty corner, Wallpher finished off a pass from Lauren Schaaf into the right corner of the cage to give Mount Hebron a 1-0 lead.

With just a single-goal lead, Ireland stressed to her team to pick up the offense.

The message was loud and clear as the host Vikings (12-3) scored three goals over the final 30 minutes.

"Going into the second half our coaches told us that one goal isn't enough and don't feel comfortable," Wallpher said. "It was a team effort and we made sure that we got the win."

With Mount Hebron attacking early, Brookhart sent a cross to Monica Linn, who fired a shot into the back of the goal for a 2-0 lead just three minutes into the second half.

Six minutes later, Brookhart finished off a pass in front of the cage from Wallpher who had split two defenders. The duo hooked up again but this time Brookhart assisted on Wallpher's second goal of the game.

"We started off slow, but in the second half we definitely turned on the wheels," Brookhart said. "Tianna and I work really well on give-and-go's."

A key injury to junior midfielder Kay Kelly late in the opening half slowed the Centennial offense moving forward, but keeper Anna Cosentino kept her team within striking distance with eight saves. 

The Eagles (3-12) graduated 11 seniors and returned just two starters from last season's team. Coach Tara Fadrowski knew her team's youth would show, but was proud of the effort shown on Thursday. 

"My girls played with heart and in the first half they really came out and showed Hebron what they've really got," Fadrowski said. "We knew this was going to be a building year, and I've really had some players who stepped up and took charge. We have a young group coming back next year and we hope to do good things."

Mount Hebron advances to face the winner of Howard-Annapolis on Monday for a shot at playing in the 3A East Regional championship game.

"We never look past one game," Wallpher said. "So we had this game, and now we'll play either Annapolis or Howard. We're just going to focus on them and whatever happens, happens. We have to take care of whoever is in front of us."

Mt. Hebron 4, Centennial 0

Goals: MH-Wallpher 2, Linn, Brookhart.

Assists: MH-Brookhart 2, Schaaf, Wallpher.

Saves: C-Cosentino 8; MH-Fisher 2.

Shots: C-5; MH-15. 

Corners: C-2; MH-9.

Half: MH, 1-0.

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