The Century boys soccer team has a philosophy: Exert maximum effort at all moments, more than the other team, and the outcome will be duly earned. Tuesday night at Dulaney, the Knights’ efforts amounted to their first win of the season.
Aiden Luckenbaugh and Zach Maryanski scored in each half, converting set-pieces from Cooper Santos, and Century’s defense withstood a sustained second-half rally and late Dulaney goal to power the Knights to a 2-1 win over the host Lions.
“Just effort,” Century coach Trey Howes said. “We’ve been preaching it all season: We’re going to drown teams in our effort.”
The Knights’ intentions to smother were clear from the opening kick as they pressed Dulaney into retreat throughout the first half. Just over six minutes in, Santos drew a foul and took a free kick on the right side from about 30 yards. His lofted pass bounced on the uneven grass and was deflected straight up where Luckenbaugh, way up field from his normal center back position, leaped to get his head on it. His header bounced into the bottom corner for a 1-0 advantage.
Playing with the lead, Century’s dynamic midfield corps of Santos, Justin Asiedu, Landon Baker and Kevin Villacorta didn’t let up. The Knights (1-0-1) won disputed balls in the midfield and connected passes, creating more opportunities and racking up five corner kicks and five first-half shots.
“Our coaches have been saying to give more effort than the other team,” Santos said. “Work as hard as you can, drown them in effort, and eventually they’ll want to stop going up for the ball and stop running hard down the line. So that’s all we’re trying to do is just work as hard as we can.”
Dulaney’s limited first-half advances were met with swift rejection from Century backs Luckenbaugh, Ryan Sien, Xander Raihl and Thomas Loschen, who held their formation and cleared their lines with relative ease.
“It’s definitely a lot nicer when we can really shape up and play together,” said Luckenbaugh. “We got in their heads a little bit and we were able to lock it down.”
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Only Dulaney’s James Northey and Joe Pichney managed shots for the Lions in the first half; neither went on target. At the other end of the field, Lions goalkeeper James Culhane prevented further damage, diving to punch away a shot by Nick McGhin and tackling away another loose ball in the box. Culhane finished with 10 saves.
Century doubled its lead less than two minutes into the second half when Santos’s deep throw-in cleared everyone and bounced awkwardly to the other side of the box where Maryanski was waiting for an easy tap-in finish.
In a 2-0 hole, Dulaney came to life. Rodrigo Arrango freed himself for a shot, but his blast went wide. Pichney beat multiple defenders on a 50-yard run to the edge of the box, but his shot was batted away by Century goalkeeper Carter Lakenan who dived to his right for one of his three saves. A cross by Pichney was headed solidly by Braeden Colegrove, but the shot went over the bar on possibly Dulaney’s best chance to that point.
Their breakthrough came on a scrum in front of goal following a throw-in. Andrew Weber’s toe-poke on the goal line clawed back a score to make it 2-1 with less than six minutes to play, but time was ultimately short on the Lions’ comeback attempt.
“The last 30, 35 minutes were very good,” said Dulaney coach Dan Lahatte, whose Lions (0-2-2) open Baltimore County play against Towson and Catonsville next week. “Something clicked for us, and when it did we showed we can be dangerous. We just have to flip that switch a little earlier.”
For Century, goals of repeating as Carroll County champions or going deep in the playoffs are secondary to the daily approach, and the win against Dulaney served as an example for Howes.
“We love each other first, we do the little things well, we provide an exorbitant amount of effort, more than the other team, and if we do all those things we have a ‘winners win’ mentality,” said Howes. “That’s our culture and that’s what we preach. The goal is obviously is to win games, but our purpose is really to do all those other things well, and the byproduct of that is winning.”