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Century boys lacrosse balanced, dominant in taking down rival Liberty

Century inched closer toward its first boys lacrosse county championship in program history with Monday’s 9-2 victory over visiting Liberty.

The Knights have loftier goals in mind this spring as well.

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Their latest victory was one that featured balance. Senior attackman Jackson Zimmer and junior midfielder Connor Zombro had three goals apiece. Century (6-0) won every face-off and dominated in time of possession. And its defense, anchored by seniors Landon Bruce, Matthew Canedo, and Chris MacDonald, held Liberty in check for a second time this season.

The Knights celebrated their Senior Night win, but Bruce said the team is fueled to avenge its loss in the 2019 Class 2A state championship game.

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“It definitely still stings a little bit, losing it and not being able to play last year,” said Bruce, who was a sophomore when Century fell to Glenelg in the finals. “I think this year, though, everyone is kind of seeing that we can make it. And it’s actually real. And I think everyone is ready to go.”

Century teammates Latif Yacoubou and Trent Hillis check the ball away from Liberty's Nick Geppi during the second half of the Knights' 9-2 win over Liberty in Eldersburg Monday, May 24, 2021.
Century teammates Latif Yacoubou and Trent Hillis check the ball away from Liberty's Nick Geppi during the second half of the Knights' 9-2 win over Liberty in Eldersburg Monday, May 24, 2021. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Zimmer had three goals in the first half, and his third came late in the second quarter to give Century a 4-1 lead. The Knights scored twice to open the third quarter before Liberty (2-5) ended their run. But Century tallied another goal with 5 seconds to go in the frame, from junior midfielder John Pavlick, to grab a five-goal lead and keep the pressure on the Lions.

Liberty struggled to find an offensive rhythm despite goalie Justin Long doing his best to keep the Lions close with 15 saves. Tyler Stratemeyer had a goal and an assist for Liberty.

Meanwhile, Century is allowing 4 goals per game this season. And the Knights already have a signature win – they defeated Westminster 13-6 on May 17 and ended the Owls’ 40-game winning streak, the longest by a public school in Maryland history.

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Knights coach Jeremy Benson credited his defense, but also the midfield and attack for riding their opponents and making it difficult for them to string together possessions.

“We just have really good matchups defensively,” Benson said. “It really is a team process on the ride, and making every team we’ve played so far work.”

Bruce and Zimmer said it was fun to see teammates who don’t get a whole lot of minutes have a chance to see the field Monday. A bigger-than-usual roar went up from Century’s sideline when midfielder Latif Yacoubou — one of 12 seniors recognized before the game — netted a goal from the right side of the box.

Century's Connor Zombro shoots a goal while covered by Liberty's Luke Carpenter and Dillon Ricketts during the first half of their game in Eldersburg Monday, May 24, 2021.
Century's Connor Zombro shoots a goal while covered by Liberty's Luke Carpenter and Dillon Ricketts during the first half of their game in Eldersburg Monday, May 24, 2021. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Zimmer said beating Westminster was indeed a highlight, but the Knights are going with the notion that there’s more to play for this spring. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association last week approved regional and state playoffs to take place next month, giving teams such as Century incentive for something after the regular season comes to an end.

The Knights visit Manchester Valley on Thursday for a second matchup, and are slated to finish the regular season June 3 at home against Francis Scott Key.

“We’ve faced adversity all year,” said Zimmer, who posted three assists Monday. “We stuck together, we never doubted anybody. … We have a lot of trust in each other. Just that connection of 29 guys has really been unstoppable this year.”

Goals: L-Tyler Stratemeyer, Jackson Wright; C-Jackson Zimmer 3, Connor Zombro 3, Trent Hillis, John Pavlick, Latif Yacoubou

Assists: L-Stratemeyer; C-Hillis 2, Zimmer 2, Jacob Panzer

Saves: L-15 (Justin Long); C-3 (Nate Jones).

JV result: Liberty, 6-5 (Lions scored the game-winner with 4 seconds to play)

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