Century suffered one county loss last season — its first since 2011 — to Manchester Valley, and the Knights did not want to see that happen a second time.
The reigning county champions for a fifth consecutive year defeated the Mavericks 2-0 for their second straight shutout this season. The Knights (3-4, 2-0 county) beat Francis Scott Key 7-0 in the county opener for both teams on Sept. 19.
“It felt amazing honestly,” senior defender Kaylee Titus said. “We’ve been working hard this whole season, we had a rocky start to start out with but we kept persevering and pushing through and it shows.”
“They were our only loss in the county last year so it was great to kind of redeem ourselves, especially with a new team,” junior midfielder Emily Rusk added.
Man Valley (3-2, 1-1) garnered a pair of free kick opportunities about 12 minutes into the game. The first one was blocked by a group of Century defenders and the second was saved by Knights goalie Jordyn Vanarsdale.
Knights midfielder Lisi Hurst helped put pressure on the Mavericks’ defense by sending a trio of shots to goal — two were shot wide and another was caught by Mavs goalie Sydney Resau.
Hurst crossed a ball over from near the left sideline to the middle of the Mavs’ defensive zone. Midfielder Summer Morrison knocked it ahead to Caitlin Pfarr, who finished the shot and gave the Knights a 1-0 lead with 16:59 left in the first half.
“What we strive to do is play as a team,” Titus said. “There are many people who try to play individually and you can see that it doesn’t work. When you link up and work together, you can make good things happen.”
The Mavs took a corner kick with 10:52 left, but Rusk sent the ball back out to midfield with a header. Resau had three saves at the half and Vanarsdale had four with the Knights ahead by one.
Rusk lined up on the left corner to take a corner kick with 31:07 remaining and the ball came back out to her direction. She kept the ball at her feet, shot low and the ball traveled right to the back of the net, much to the Knights’ excitement.
“A lot of times we have trouble following our shots and making sure if it comes back out that someone is there to get back in it,” Rusk said. “I made sure that when I saw it coming back out, I ran to it and didn’t stop.”
The Mavericks continued to build on their pressure, but the Knights held together to keep the shutout alive.
“Despite them being tired, exhausted and sore in the last five to 10 minutes of the game, you could see the heart come through and they never gave up,” Mavs coach Denise Hoff said. “That’s what we are at Man Valley this year, just fighting for every ball.”
Resau finished with seven saves and Vanarsdale had eight for the Knights.
“We definitely started off slower and the good thing was that, throughout the game, especially after halftime when we spoke to them, they started to raise their level and things started to connect,” Knights coach Sara Figuly said. “We started doing the things that we’re supposed to be doing in order to win games so it was good to see the level continue to raise.”
Goals: C-Emily Rusk, Caitlin Pfarr.
Assists: C-Summer Morrison.
Saves: MV-7 (Sydney Resau); C-8 (Jordyn Vanarsdale).
Halftime: Century, 1-0.
JV result: MV, 1-0.