DAMASCUS — Century entered the Class 2A West final with just one appearance in the state tournament in school history. Four quarters and nine goals later, the Knights defeated host Damascus 9-2 to become region champions for the first time since 2013.
"It's all about matchups, Knights coach Jeremy Benson said. "We know the first two playoff games would be county matchups and this game would be against either Middletown or Damascus ... we scrimmaged Damascus early in the season and they really beat us ... we knew we would really have a battle so we have been looking forward to this game since we knew it would Damascus."
Jalen Stanton had a game-high three goals, but Century's offense didn't really get going until the second half. The Hornets netted the first goal of the game with 9 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the opening quarter and scored again in the last three minutes, ending the first quarter with a 2-1 lead.
But goalie Adam Zimmerman and the Century defense would not allow a goal for the remainder of the game, and it wasn't because of a lack of scoring opportunities for Damascus. Zimmerman finished with 14 saves and turned down shot after shot.
The Knights’ defense swarmed the ball at the right times, and although the Hornets had possession for most of the first half, they couldn't convert most of those chances.
"Our defense is impregnable and there are a lot of games when we joke and say I'm bored because our defense doesn't give up many shots, but tonight was a busy night for me" Zimmerman said. "Communicating well makes sure everyone i son the same page and my defense does a really good job of echoing what I'm saying so everyone knows what we are doing and what sets we are in."
Added Benson: "Oh my gosh, I knew we have a great goalie and a great defense and that we were going to have to step up in big games and that's what Zimmerman was able to do in the second half."
Century (15-2) scored twice in the second quarter to take a 3-2 advantage into halftime, one of those goals coming from Stanton who used his speed to weave through the defense and bury a ball in the back of the net. And then the barrage happened.
The Knights scored quickly to start the second half before Stanton scored back to back goals, and with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter Century ballooned the lead up to 6-2.
Three more goals in the final quarter sealed Century's victory as the mixture of great defense and possessing the ball well on offense ensured the outcome. Brady Crumbacker scored the last goal for Century with 5:25 remaining.
"Our defense makes offense so much easier, you can make some aggressive decisions and know that it won't lead to a goal or something good for the other team, it definitely takes a lot of pressure off of the offense," Stanton said of his team's defense performance.
"It's awesome, the last four years since my freshman year we've had a great team, but we never got past the sectional final," he continued. "To be here is one thing, but to win is another, it's awesome and after Monday I knew this was the team that would do it and we came out here and did it."
Goals: C-Jalen Stanton 3, Brady Crumbacker 2, Brett Kropinski, Matt Daniel, Ben Voigt, Colin McAuliffe; D-Walker Krizman, James Petrolle.
Assists: C-Kevin Hackett; D-Krizman.
Saves: C-14 (Adam Zimmerman); D-9 (Adam Singer).
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Halftime: Century, 3-2.