Century's Stephen Hurst beats Manchester Valley's Brayden Safely to the ball during the first half of Thursday evening's game between visiting Century and Manchester Valley in Manchester.
Century's Stephen Hurst beats Manchester Valley's Brayden Safely to the ball during the first half of Thursday evening's game between visiting Century and Manchester Valley in Manchester. (Doug Kapustin / Carroll County Times)

Trey Howes toyed with the idea of using Joe Bergamaschi, one of seven seniors on Century High School’s boys soccer roster, on the front line for some offensive help.

Howes thought Bergamaschi, a defender, might be able to provide leadership and give the Knights some experience by playing forward. The plan was hatched during tryouts and preseason practice, and it was squashed just as quickly.

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“I wanted to play him up top this year, but he came up to me on the third day and was like, ‘No way coach,’” Howes said. “And he just provides stability.”

Bergamaschi stayed back, and Century has thrived. The Knights (7-2) find themselves atop the Carroll County Athletic League standings at 3-0, owners of a five-game winning streak. Century’s defense has four shutouts, including two in a row last week against CCAL foes Francis Scott Key (2-0 on Sept. 24) and Manchester Valley (4-0 on Sept. 26).

The Knights are the lone unbeaten team in county play, and they have two more challenges ahead this week with Westminster on Tuesday (home) and South Carroll on Thursday (away). Liberty awaits Oct. 15 at home.

Century lost several key contributors from last year’s team — 12 seniors graduated from its 10-3 squad — and the Knights field five sophomores and a freshman this fall. Howes, in his first year as coach, returned the Knights’ leading scorer in senior forward Ryan Rolfes (seven goals, 14 points). Alex Grasso, a senior midfielder, also brought back offensive skills, but Howes wanted to focus on creating a cohesive unit from the start of the year.

Bergamaschi had an idea about how to help.

“I feel like as a team we could just used more stability at the back in the beginning of the season,” said Bergamaschi, who earned second-team all-CCAL honors last season. “Especially because I’ve never really played up top before. I’ve just jelled better back there, holding together the team.”

He gets help from a handful of teammates, from fellow defenders Brennan Deibel (senior), Stephen Hurst (senior), Andrew DeShong (junior), and Carter Hobson (sophomore), to midfielders Danny Cooper (junior) and Jackson Glenn (senior). And junior Ethan Ricketts has 22 saves as goalie.

Howes praised Hobson for finding his way within the first few weeks of the season. Century was 2-2 after losing 1-0 to Atholton on Sept. 13. But the Knights haven’t lost since, and they’ve allowed three goals amid their win streak.

“Carter is one of the kids that we needed him to figure it out. And he’s just learning, and he’s getting better every time,” Howes said. "There were games in the beginning of the year where we were like, ‘What is he doing?’ And now it’s like he’s playing 70, 80 minutes, and putting full games together. He’s one of those young kids that has been aided by some of our older kids.

“I knew we were going to be young. I knew the learning curve would be there, but we have the seniors to compete.”

Chesney getting a little help: South Carroll’s offense runs through senior forward Carter Chesney, a first-team all-county pick from 2018 who tied for fifth in scoring last season and was the top returning scorer in Carroll County this year. The Cavaliers had 11 goals through their first seven games in 2019, and Chesney netted 10 of them.

Chesney had all of SC’s goals on the season before sophomore Danny Caparotti scored one in their team’s 2-1 win Sept. 19 over Man Valley.

South Carroll finally got a little more balance last week against Winters Mill, when the Cavs won 6-0 and had four scorers — sophomore Garrett Fowble, senior Ezana Kebede, junior Andrew Dolecki, and Chesney, who scored three goals.

Chesney has 13 goals and 27 points this season.

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