PASADENA — Century called a timeout with less than a minute to play and before the Knights returned to their positions, senior midfielder Brett Kropinski shouted “We need one more, one more!”
That “one more” was a much needed goal. The Knights were beating Parkside, but a two-goal lead simply wasn’t enough.
That’s when senior midfielder Jalen Stanton found teammate Colin McAuliffe for a goal moments later to give the Knights an insurance goal en route to a 7-4 win in the Class 2A state semifinals. The Knights (16-2) won their fourth game in a row, and will face the Glenelg-Hereford winner May 21 in the 2A state final at Paint Branch High School.
It’s Century’s first state final appearance in program history.
“It’s awesome,” Knights senior goalie Adam Zimmerman said. “In the previous three years I’ve been here, we’ve only had four total playoff wins and we never really knew what it was like to have a run. To actually have one this year for those freshmen who had three straight years of underachieving in the playoffs, it’s really special.”
The Knights had six players score the team’s seven goals, and two of those came from junior attackman Matt Daniel. Daniel also added an assist and Kropinski notched a goal and an assist.
Century has won 11 of its last 12. The Knights defeated Damascus to capture the 2A West title on Wednesday to advance to the state semifinals.
They jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, thanks to goals from Daniel, Charlie Hackett, and Julian Schemm. Parkside junior midfielder Marcus Yarnes got the Rams going with a goal 35 seconds into the second quarter.
Century responded 21 seconds later when Kropinski found Daniel for a fourth Knights goal. Parkside responded with the next two to pull one at 4-3.
Kropinski and Daniel connected for a second time to give the Knights a two-goal advantage at the half.
Both teams put up a solid defensive effort and the third quarter almost went scoreless, but Schemm connected with Stanton with 18 seconds left to make it 6-3. Yarnes fired his second tally of the game past Zimmerman with 4:07 left to play before the Knights called their second timeout of the final quarter.
“It’s awesome and everyone has bought in, everyone’s gotten better from last year,” Knights coach Jeremy Benson said. “We’ve had high expectations every year but this year they’ve had that next-level chip to buy in and push it because we weren’t satisfied with how last year went.”
Daniel said losing to county foe Liberty in the playoffs last season fueled this year’s Knights to come in with something extra to “drive that passion.”
Rams goalie Cole Russ made eight saves and Zimmerman made nine for the Knights.
“Having ‘Z’ in goal is a relief for a lot of us because we know we can count on him to make a huge stop,” Daniel said. “I still remember the Glenelg game, it was 8-7 with 10 seconds left, kid makes three fakes and ‘Z’ saves it on the doorstep for the win so having that thought in the back of my mind that he can come up with a big save and clear it whenever we need it — that’s big.”
Goals: C-Colin McAuliffe, Matt Daniel 2, Jalen Stanton, Julian Schemm, Brett Kropinski, Charlie Hackett; P-Marcus Yarnes 2, Michael Daugherty, Dominic Flora.
Assists: C-Daniel 2, Kropinski; P-Lucas Ingley.
Saves: C-9 (Adam Zimmerman); P-8 (Cole Russ).
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Halftime: Century, 6-3.