A five-game winning streak has Century’s boys soccer team out in front for the Carroll County Athletic League championship chase, and the Knights feel like they haven’t even started to see true potential yet.

Thursday’s 4-0 road win against Manchester Valley, the reigning CCAL champion, might count as a statement for a Knights squad that has a new coach in Trey Howes and a roster filled with new faces.

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Howes, who played soccer at Century, said he told his players from the start of the season the program’s senior class was going to lead the way.

Senior forward Kyle Kropfelder had two goals and an assist, while Alex Grasso, a senior midfielder, added a goal and an assist for the Knights.

“I’ve been saying it all year: when we figure it out, we’re going to be good,” Howes said. “And we’re beginning to figure it out.”

Century's Kyle Kropfelder (L) reacts with teammates after scoring the game's first goal during the first half of Thursday evening's match between visiting Century and Manchester Valley in Manchester.
Century's Kyle Kropfelder (L) reacts with teammates after scoring the game's first goal during the first half of Thursday evening's match between visiting Century and Manchester Valley in Manchester. (Doug Kapustin/Carroll County Times)

Howes pointed to Century’s come-from-behind win over Patterson Mill (2-1 on Sept. 17) as an early turning point, but Thursday’s victory was just as meaningful.

Century (7-2, 3-0 CCAL) netted three second-half goals to pull away, and leaned on its defense to pitch a second straight county shutout. The Knights downed Francis Scott Key 2-0 on Sept. 24.

Their defense is led by senior Joe Bergamaschi, who gets help along the back row from fellow seniors Brennan Deibel and Stephen Hurst, and sophomore Carter Hobson.

Century has five sophomores and one freshman, but youth or inexperience haven’t been hurdles to clear so far this season. Midfielder Jackson Glenn said the cohesion starts with Bergamaschi.

“I think Joe’s a great leader back there,” Glenn said. “From the beginning of the season it showed ... we’re solid.”

Kropfelder had a goal in each half, and Ryan Rolfes knocked in a pass from Kropfelder early in the second half to give the Knights a 2-0 lead. Man Valley (5-3, 1-2) tried to get back in it on the next run of play, and the Mavericks nearly drew within one.

Jack Metz got through the middle of Century’s defense a few minutes after Rolfes’ marker and ripped a shot from 20 yards away, near the top of the box, but it sailed just over the crossbar.

Manchester Valley goalie Daniel Sanders makes a diving save as Century applies relentless offensive pressure during the first half of Thursday evening's game between visiting Century and Manchester Valley in Manchester.
Manchester Valley goalie Daniel Sanders makes a diving save as Century applies relentless offensive pressure during the first half of Thursday evening's game between visiting Century and Manchester Valley in Manchester. (Doug Kapustin/Carroll County Times)

Dan Sanders did his best to keep the Mavs in it by collecting 15 saves in goal. But Century capped its balanced effort with another county victory, and an important one at that.

The Knights haven’t won an outright county championship since 2009 (they shared one with South Carroll in 2013), and Bergamaschi said he wanted a little revenge from last season when Man Valley went to Eldersburg and won en route to its program’s first county crown.

“Coming in as freshmen, that’s all we wanted to do,” Bergamaschi said. “We wanted to carry the program. It feels great to come back up here and beat them 4-0 on the road. It’s a huge win for us, a huge win in the county. It really shows anyone else what we can do.”

Goals: C-Kyle Kropfelder 2, Ryan Rolfes, Alex Grasso

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Assists: C-Grasso, Kropfelder, Conor Grow

Saves: C-4 (Ethan Ricketts); MV-15 (Dan Sanders).

Halftime: Century, 1-0.

JV result: Tied, 1-1.

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