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Century girls soccer defeats Liberty to secure county championship

Senior captain Haley Greenwade put the Knights ahead for good with a goal midway through the first half and Century closed out a county-championship season with a 3-1 victory over Liberty Tuesday.

Greenwade struck quickly for the decisive score, just moments after the Lions had tied the game at 1-1 and looked to have the Knights reeling.

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The senior forward recovered a loose ball in the box following a free kick and beat a diving Liberty goaltender Ashley Schwartz with a shot just inside the post for a 2-1 lead.

Just one minute prior to the goal by Greenwade, Liberty cashed in on a chance in front of the Knights’ goal. The Lions earned a pair of corner kicks with consistent pressure on the Century defense.

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The second corner kick paid off, as sophomore midfielder Morgan Stein gained possession and fed junior Madi Rytina. The forward lofted the ball over Knights goalie Mia Graff to knot the game.

Unfortunately for the Lions, that was their final strike of the game as the Knights defense clamped down following the goal. Liberty head coach Danielle Prietz lamented a lack of scoring chances after the game.

“We just didn’t shoot enough,” Prietz said. “We didn’t generate enough shots. We didn’t shoot.”

Century opened the scoring quickly with a goal in the game’s first two minutes. The Knights stayed in the Liberty zone for an extended period and sophomore forward Harli Hamlett made it pay off. Hamlett scored off a nice assist from senior midfielder Caroline Little following a throw-in for an early 1-0 lead.

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“It was just the right place, right time,” Hamlett said of her goal. “It’s such a team effort on this team, everyone works well together. It’s not just one person, it’s the whole team.”

Later, back ahead after temporarily being tied again, the Knights added some insurance with 26 minutes to go in the second half. The Knights turned a Liberty turnover at midfield into a quick scoring opportunity.

Century senior defender Katy Grow stepped in front of a Liberty pass and moved into the offensive zone. Grow hit fellow senior Anna Hackett with a well-placed pass and the midfielder finished to give the Knights a 3-1 edge.

In the postgame huddle, Century head coach Chris Little referred to Grow as the player of the game, lauding her impact on defense.

“Katy Grow had a great game,” Little said. “The defense came together in that second half, won a little bit more.”

Winning another county title is an accomplishment that is not lost on Little. However, he also pointed out that in some ways the season is just getting started for Century. The Knights have three tough regular season games ahead against Oakdale, McDonough and Dulaney.

“We’re happy about the season, but our [new] season starts today,” he said. “We’ve got three tough games [coming up]. We want that [challenge]. Kind of a ‘to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best’ [mentality]. Now, we may not beat all those teams, but we are going to play our best and it’s going to be a really good prep for us for the postseason.”

Prior to the game, the two crosstown rivals united in a show of solidarity by donning T-shirts supporting the Marcia Courage in Action cause (MCA). The foundation was started by Marcia Cohen, the mother of Century JV player Lauren Cohen. Maria Cohen was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and lost her battle with the disease over the summer. The nonprofit foundation is dedicated to spreading awareness, helping those affected by cancer and raising money for research into treatment.

Players from the Knights program raised money for the cause by selling over 225 shirts. At the entrance gate, spectators could donate items and money toward Courage Bags. Courage Bags help patients facing their first cancer treatment by providing them with items that can provide comfort. Individuals can find more information about the foundation and make donations at https://marciacourageinaction.org.

Century 3, Liberty 1

Goals: C - Harli Hamlett, Haley Greenwade, Anna Hackett. L – Madi Rytina

Assists: L – Morgan Stein. C – Caroline Little, Melody Leiva, Katy Grow.

Saves: L – Ashley Schwartz 7. C – Mia Graff 6.

Halftime: 2-1, C.

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