ELDERSBURG — Andres Britos was still attempting to catch his breath when he said there were no words to describe the feeling of scoring a game-winning goal.
Century and Liberty were tied 2-2 to set up overtime in a battle for the Carroll County Athletic League title Tuesday. Britos, a Lions sophomore, scored on a free kick with less than two minutes into the first overtime period to help the Lions capture second county title in three seasons.
Britos was swarmed by his teammates, and senior goalie Anjan Singh sprinted down the field to meet the group and join in the celebration.
“There’s no better feeling than making that run down there,” Singh said. “I did it against South Carroll [a double OT win Sept. 17], and it was even better tonight.”
Century led 2-1 late in the second half, and Knights goalie Ethan Ricketts made four point-blank saves in a row before Liberty (9-1-1, 5-1 CCAL) garnered a corner kick opportunity. Britos set up to take the kick, and Michael Pellicciotti knocked it into the goal in a matter of seconds to tie the score with 6:46 left to play.
After that, Century’s student section and Liberty’s visiting students in the stands on the opposite side of the stadium swarmed the fence line surrounding the field to cheer on their peers.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lions coach Dave Abarbanel said. “It’s pretty emotional, to be honest. Century was amazing tonight and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. They’re a talented team, a well-coached team, and I just told these guys I’m really proud of them and the way they fought back from adversity twice in this game.
“It just defines who we are as a team, very resilient.”
It took just 11 minutes for Century (10-4, 4-2) to scored first during regulation. Liberty received a yellow card, which set up a free kick for the Knights.
A group of five Knights surrounded the ball and each set up to take the kick before the whistle blew. Senior forward Alex Grasso took the shot, the ball bounced off the shoulder of Liberty’s Ethan Heidtman and out to Colin Williams, who finished to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Williams ran past the goal, and almost tripped and fell before being met by his teammates in celebration.
Liberty didn’t let Century hold on to the lead for too long, and senior midfielder Ben Hiebler got the scoring touch on a free kick from senior midfielder Shane Ervin about two minutes, five seconds later to even the game at 1-1.
The Lions took a pair of free kicks and set pieces that were close, but did not hit their marks. Century’s Kyle Kropfelder ripped a shot to goal with 7:34 left in the first half to give the Knights a 2-1 lead. Both teams had strong performances in goal — Ricketts made 13 saves for the Knights, and Singh made seven for the Lions.
Liberty has won five county titles in the last 10 seasons — 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2019. The Lions are 6-0-1 in their last six games, and notched six straight shutouts, outscoring those opponents 14-0.
“I’ve always told the guys that the strength of our team is our depth,” Abarbanel said. “This is the deepest team I’ve ever coached in terms of talent, but also work ethic. They’re an extremely tight team with great chemistry throughout the entire year, and I think that paid off. I think our depth really showed tonight and we hope it continues to show as we move forward.”
Goals: L-Ben Hiebler, Michael Pellicciotti, Andres Britos; C-Colin Williams, Kyle Kropfelder.
Assists: L-Shane Ervin, Dylan McLaughlin; C-Alex Grasso.
Saves: L-7 (Anjan Singh); C-13 (Ethan Ricketts).
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Halftime: Century, 2-1.