ELDERSBURG — When asked about his team's playoff-opening win, Century senior Chris Rinehart wasted no time setting his sights toward its next opponent.
"Now that we know we get South Carroll again, we get another chance at them, I think we're going to come out and show them what we've got," Rinehart said.
The Knights beat visiting North Carroll easily, 17-2, in Wednesday's Class 2A-1A West Section 2 quarterfinal. And in a win-or-go-home environment, teams often don't need any extra motivation. Players know they could be playing the last game of their season, and potentially their careers.
But Century knew what awaited it on Friday — the Cavaliers, who overcame a six-goal deficit in the second half to beat the Knights, 14-13, on April 25.
"We have plenty of motivation, without a doubt," said Century coach Jeremy Benson, whose team won its fourth straight game to match its longest winning streak of the season.
The Knights (11-4) had to get through North Carroll before they could seek revenge. And after the first quarter, it was tied 1-1.
However in the second quarter, Century completely dominated. Senior faceoff specialist Zach Keepers won all nine faceoffs in the quarter and the Knights turned that into eight goals, building a 9-1 lead by halftime.
Rinehart tallied a game-high seven points on four goals and three assists. Senior midfielder Brandon Johnston, junior midfielder Andrew Fleishell, and freshman attack Carter Truby each scored four goals in the Knights' rousing offensive performance.
"Zach Keepers has been out there killing it the whole time," Rinehart said. "Most of lacrosse is a momentum sport and we had that throughout the whole game. I just thought we had the game from the start."
Century won 19-of-22 faceoffs and dominated the time of possession against the Panthers (3-12).
It was almost formulaic for the Knights in the second quarter. Keepers won the faceoff, junior long-stick midfielder Lane Cavey scooped up the ground ball, and moved it upfield, where Century's attack passed it around until one of its dynamic scorers found the back of the net.
The Knights scored 12 straight goals to build a 13-1 lead with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
"We got our rhythm and just kept it going, which I'm proud of them for," Benson said. "If you get the possessions from faceoffs like we have all year, it really does help the momentum."
Century has allowed just five goals over its last three games and held teams to less than 10 in 13 of its 15 games.
North Carroll didn't have many scoring opportunities. But when the Panthers did move the ball into the offensive zone, the Knights' defense gave them troubles. Sophomore goalie Chris Yanchoris only needed to make five saves as his defenders in front of him did a good job of locking down NC's attackers.
"Our offense really stepped it up," Century junior defender Patrick Hunter said. "It's nice to sit back and watch your boys go to work."
In the program's last season, North Carroll ended the year with four straight losses, falling in nine of its last 10.
The Knights will play at South Carroll on Friday at 6 in a Class 2A-1A West Section 2 semifinal. And after what happened last time the two teams squared off, Benson said he knows his team can't let up at any point.
"Forget the game, but then use that as a chip, use that as motivation," Benson said. "We know how we can play and I think we showed that for some of the game. But then we know they're a legitimate threat and we can't slow down and we can't lose momentum."
Goals: NC-Connor Waskiewicz, Brandon Smith; C-Chris Rinehart 4, Brandon Johnston 4, Carter Truby 4, Andrew Fleishell 4, Jacob Leitner.
Assists: NC-Riley Larrimore, Andy Long; C-Rinehart 3, Leitner 2, Fleishell, Austin Johnston, Patrick Hunter, Brett Kropinski, Jarrett Justice.
Saves: NC-7 (Zach Evans); C-5 (Chris Yanchoris).
Halftime: Century, 9-1.
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