A disallowed goal proved to be the turning point in Tuesday’s Class 2A West Region 1 final between county rivals Century and Liberty.
A throng of lively Lions fans, fueled by their raucous student section, enjoyed the moment when the Knights appeared to have scored first — officials met on the field and reversed their decision twice before concluding Century was offside when the ball found the net.
Knights spectators howled, and their coaches argued to no avail. But Century’s players used the break in the action to realize the situation.
“After that, I told my teammates, ‘Let’s keep on pushing. It’s all ours,’” said midfielder Alex Grasso. “We’ve been training for this for a very long time. And we just kept on pushing, and we eventually got it in the back of the net.”
Twice, to be exact.
The Knights, having lost the Carroll County Athletic League title to Liberty two weeks ago, exacted some revenge in capturing the regional title with a 2-0 road victory. Grasso scored his team’s second goal of the game, with a little less than 9 minutes remaining in a first half dominated by the visiting team.
Jackson Glenn put Century (12-4) on the board when he converted a penalty kick with 10 minutes to play in the half.
That was all the offense the Knights needed, and their aggressive style paid off. Century lost 3-2 in overtime at home to the Lions for the county title, and coach Trey Howes said his players felt things would be different if they met again in the playoffs.
Not getting the early goal was difficult to accept, but only for a few minutes, he said.
“It’s great adversity from them, to keep pushing and pressing," Howes said. “The ball was just in their defensive third the whole game. I was very pleased with our kids, with their ability to rebound quickly.”
Midfield play went Century’s way for most of the night, which made things tricky for Liberty (11-2-1), and coach Dave Abarbanel said he knew the rematch with the Knights would be difficult.
“We knew they were going to come out with a lot of fire and lot of passion, and they did,” Abarbanel said. "They played a great game, they deserve to win. It just wasn’t our night."
Shane Ervin had a free kick chance in the final minute of the first half, but his rip from about 25 yards away sailed over the net and Century held its two-goal lead at the break. The Lions tried to get back into it, but couldn’t manage much of a rally.
Anjan Singh shined in goal with 10 saves. But Century controlled things almost from the start, with 11 corner kicks to Liberty’s three.
Grasso said losing the county title game at home stung, but the Knights used that loss as motivation for the remainder of the season. Now they’re making plans for a state quarterfinal, a date and site yet to be determined.
“We wanted to come back here and get some revenge," Grasso said.