Boys Soccer: Knights' postseason run continues with win

After the postgame handshake, smiling Century boys soccer players rushed to the visitors' sideline and slapped hands with cheering, white-clad student supporters.

The magical Century postseason continues.


Senior Anthony Palatella's second-half goal was the game-winner in Century's 2-1 victory over South Carroll Tuesday night in a Class 2A West Section 2 semifinal. Century (8-5-2) will play at Oakland Mills in the section final on Thursday.

When the Class 2A postseason bracket was unveiled, several Knights said they knew they faced a difficult road. Advancing would mean winning road games against county powers Liberty and South Carroll, the two teams in the county championship game. The Knights lost to both teams in the regular season.

No such problems in the playoffs.

First, Century won 3-2 via penalty kicks over county champion Liberty. One save from goalkeeper Matthew Schrodel and a game-winning penalty kick from Justin Breitenbach led to the first raucous Century celebration of the postseason.

Palatella's goal and a late defensive stand kick-started a second party-like atmosphere. The 1-0 regular season loss to South Carroll (9-5-2) seemed like a distant memory, players said.

"We treated the playoffs like a new season," Schrodel said.

Palatella's game-winning goal came just four minutes into the second half. After South Carroll goalkeeper Chris Nunez-Mendez deftly halted a Century counterattack by deflecting a ball out of bounds, a Century throw-in followed.

Palatella found the ball at his feet, just in front of the net. He quickly kicked a low shot past Nunez-Mendez.


"I was just doing everything I could to score," he said.

Before Palatella's heroics, Century needed to rally.

Cavaliers junior Kevin Morris scored off a header on a direct kick to give South Carroll a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the first half. Nunez-Mendez also had a leaping save on a penalty kick opportunity by Century captain Brian Smith.

"It was a huge play," South Carroll coach Tim Novotny said of the penalty-kick save. "It changed the momentum of the game."

Despite the early setbacks, Century answered with a set-piece goal of its own, courtesy of a header by sophomore Chris Yanchoris. Matt Pfarr assisted on the goal with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Yanchoris is one of many Century underclassmen who have played well in the postseason thus far.

"All of the underclassmen just aren't letting the season end for the seniors," captain Caleb Shumpert said. "They just keep fighting so the seniors can keep playing."


With nine minutes remaining, the Century student section began bellowing the popular U.S. soccer chant "I believe that we will win."

While South Carroll held possession, there were scant quality chances late.

In the end, the Cavaliers could not overcome giving up two set piece goals.

"Set pieces are deadly in playoff soccer," Novotny said.

The Cavaliers' loss ended the career of a talented senior class that never had a losing season at South Carroll. SC loses four-year varsity player Nick Ellis and three-year varsity player Ethan Gass.

Senior Noah Boswell, who scored twice in a regular-season victory over North Carroll, missed the game due to injury.

And while the Cavaliers were missing a few starters, Novotny said that was not the reason the team lost.

The Cavaliers' sideline was quiet after the game while the celebration raged on across the field. Century's postseason road resurgence now heads into Howard County.

"This is why you play soccer for four years," Schrodel said, "For chances like this."

Goals: C-Chris Yanchoris, Anthony Palatella; SC-Kevin Morris.

Assists: C-Yanchoris, Matt Pfarr; SC-Spencer Gleeson, Matt Pfarr.

Saves: C-5 (Matt Schrodel); SC-5 (Chris Nunez-Mendez).

Halftime: Tied, 1-1.