Century knew what it was up against when the Knights faced Glenelg in the Class 2A state championship game.
The Knights defeated the Gladiators by one goal in a regular season tournament game, but had to overcome a four-goal deficit to do so. The Gladiators challenged them in similar fashion once again, but came out on top to defeat the Knights 11-7 and win the 2A state title Tuesday at Paint Branch High School.
The victory marked the fourth state title in program history for the Gladiators (13-6).
Century was playing for its first state title in program history and Knights coach Jeremy Benson said it sets a new expectation for the program as a whole, despite the loss.
“I think we came in this year with a different motivation, not one just diving in to see what we can do but knowing what we have and knowing what we can do being a little bit more confident in games,” Knights senior midfielder Jalen Stanton said. “I believe that helped us a little bit in those close games toward the middle of the season and at the end as well.”
Stanton and Brett Kropinski led the way for the Knights — Stanton scored three goals and Kropinski added two. Senior goalie Adam Zimmerman made eight saves for the Knights (16-3).
The Gladiators scored the first two goals of the game before Century senior midfielder Brett Kropinski pushed his way through the Gladiators’ defense to cut the lead by one. Gladiators senior attackman Michael Doughty scored his second goal of the night and junior midfielder Kyle Dry responded to put Glenelg up 4-1 after the first quarter.
It was 5-1 early in the second before Century junior Brady Crumbacker’s unassisted tally sparked a three-goal scoring run for the Knights. Alex Hillis and Stanton found the back of the net before the Gladiators answered with two straight goals to take a 7-4 lead into the break.
“That’s tough, that’s tough,” Benson said. “We played them before and they went up 5-1 so we were ready for it so even when it happened again, the guys stayed composed. The toughest part was, even if we scored, we would get a goal and they were still able to get the ground ball so it was definitely a challenge when they answered back but it’s still a game at that point.”
Century and Glenelg each scored once in the third quarter, and the teams went goal-for-goal in the final quarter.
The Knights’ defense has played a crucial role in the team’s journey to the state final this season. They allowed more than 10 goals a game just once prior to Tuesday’s championship game — an 11-6 loss to Carroll County foe Westminster.
“We didn’t really lose any assets from last year other than our goalie but we filled that spot perfectly with Adam and I think last year was more of a practice season,” Kropinski said. “This year was our year to take it to states, obviously, and we just felt more confident knowing everyone knew their roles and how to fit in to our system.
“We just went off of how we played last year to use that last game as fuel to get this far.”
Goals: G-Michael Doughty 4, Ryan Hopkins 2, Kyle Dry 2, Kevin Doughty, Tyler Reiff, C.J. Davidson; C-Jalen Stanton 3, Brett Kropinski 2, Brady Crumbacker, Alex Hillis.