The Centennial girls soccer team made no secret how it planned to attack Marriotts Ridge in Friday's important Howard County game, and the No. 8 Eagles didn't let the No. 10 Mustangs' typically strong defense or the steady rain at Rockburn Branch Park get in the way.
Controlling the midfield and sending one through ball after another in order to fully utilize their speedy wings, the Eagles came away with a 4-0 win over Marriotts Ridge that gave them a share of first place in Howard County.
Sophomore Megan Oliver scored two goals, senior Ruthie Lucas had one goal and two assists, junior Anna Mitchell notched two assists and controlled the midfield and sophomore Reese Western scored the game's first goal.
The complete team effort helped Centennial improve to 9-1-1 overall and 7-1-1 in Howard, tied with River Hill (7-4-1, 7-1-1) with two games remaining. Centennial and River Hill tied, 0-0, last week. If the teams finish with the same league record, they would be declared co-champions.
"We have a really quick and skilled offense. I love playing balls to Megan and Reese, because they can get to almost anything," Mitchell said. "I think that's the key to our offense — playing the through balls and using our speed. I think we beat them with our speed today. Just really proud we could get this win, it means a lot."
The Eagles pressured the Mustangs from the start and were rewarded 15 minutes into the game when Western one-timed a cross sent in by Lucas from the right side for a 1-0 lead. A number of other chances went for naught the rest of the half, allowing the Mustangs (8-2-2, 5-2-2) a chance to get back even. But Naomi Feldman's rebound try in close went wide late in the first half, followed by a Leah Zadjura header that also went wide of the goal.
Centennial was able to put the game away with scores from Oliver midway through the second half and then a late goal from Lucas.
With a lineup filled with underclassmen — freshman midfielder Jasmine McCree also played big in the middle — the Eagles are enjoying success they didn't expect to come so quickly. Friday's effort has become the norm.
"I think we all had the heart and did what we needed to do to win," Oliver said. "This year, we're closer as a team as a whole and, on the field, I think we're really working well, connecting the ball and getting the passes through."
Centennial will travel to Reservoir on Tuesday and then play host to Mount Hebron on Thursday to close out the regular season. River Hill finishes with two home games — hosting Mount Hebron on Tuesday and Wilde Lake on Thursday.
8 Centennial 4, 10 Marriotts Ridge 0
Goals: C – Oliver 2, Western, Lucas
Assists: C – Lucas 2, Mitchell 2
Saves: MR – Bergquist 8; C – Davis 3.
Half: C, 1-0