The most important minutes in Tuesday's girls soccer showdown between defending Carroll County champion Century and rival Liberty came midway through the first half. And the host Knights were the ones who made the game-changing plays.
Century senior goalie Lindsay Wagner made two point-blank saves in the 18th minute to keep the game scoreless, until freshman forward Kylie Davis scored in the 21st minute off a cross sent in by senior Jaci Buteau.
The dramatic turn gave the No. 14 Knights momentum they would not surrender in a 2-0 win over the Lions. Sophomore midfielder Megan Callan scored two minutes into the second half, with Buteau notching her second assist, and Century used a poised possession game to protect the advantage and keep the Lions quiet.
Century improves to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Carroll County, while Liberty falls to 2-1-1 and 0-1 in league play.
"The first goal was the most important because, at first, we weren't as strong," Buteau said. "It was so scary [when Liberty almost scored] and it was definitely a wake-up call. That was huge. And once we were up 1-0, we didn't let that get to our heads. We kept playing really hard with them because we know they're a good team."
Liberty pressed early with standout forward Jenny Litz twice getting behind the Knights' defense, but she was unable to finish. Her first chance came 10 minutes into the game when her shot from 14 yards out got by Century goalkeeper Lindsay Wagner but hit off the crossbar. With 22 minutes left in the first half, Litz made another strong run deep into the penalty area and Wagner answered with the two big saves before another rebound try from Carly Reed went off the post.
Just three minutes later, Davis finished off Buteau's cross, and the Knights had the lead. After a halftime talk focusing on not letting up, the Knights scored their second goal when Buteau found space down the right side and hit a shot that Liberty goalie Kayla Maggio (five saves) turned aside before Callan pounced on the rebound in front.
"We tell them all the time, and the girls know it, too, that 1-0 is too close of a game and we need to spread the gap, and that's what we talked about at halftime. We've talked all season about continuing to raise our level, and that's what they did throughout the game," Liberty coach Sara Figuly said.
Liberty coach Callie Gillen said her team's inability to finish off the early scoring chances, win more balls in the air and play out wide cost the Lions in their loss. Despite the loss, she has been pleased with what she has seen in the early season.
"We've been having great practices. A lot of girls want to do well, want to work hard, and we have a lot of eager people [who want] to get in the games. So that's all you can really ask for as a coach," she said.
Century was without standout sophomore forward Hannah Warther, who is expected to return soon from a sprained knee. The Knights got strong performances from defenders Alyssa Malanik and Kristen Yanchoris. Liberty senior defender Courtney Cole had a fine game for the Lions.