By By Todd Karpovich and For The Baltimore Sun Media Group
Oct 07, 2014 at 9:34 PM
Centennial coach Steven Baxter encourages his defenders to push forward to take advantage of the open space on the wings and support the Eagles' attack.
Madison Griffin perfectly executed that strategy against Glenelg on Tuesday. The sophomore defender helped keep the back line organized and had a goal and an assist in Centennial's 3-1 victory over the Gladiators.
"It's really fun," Griffin said about the freedom to push forward. "It gives me the chance to attack."
Centennial (6-4-1, overall, 5-3 league) wasted little time taking control of the game, scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes. Jasmine McCree flicked in a pass from Griffin in the fifth minute and Martha Hutzell fired a loose ball into the top of the goal about four minutes later.
Glenelg (3-5-2, 2-5-1) settled down about midway through the first half and created some scoring opportunities. Rachel Nichols was effective controlling the midfield. Still, the Gladiators were held scoreless at the break
Coach Julie Bortz said her team will focus on avoiding those slow starts as they prepare for the playoffs.
"We have been struggling all year coming out a little bit flat," Bortz said. "It's not the first time we got burned. I think our fitness is not where it needs to be sometimes and you can't come out flat."
Glenelg played much better in the early part of the second half and kept Centennial on defense. Kathleen Mensing cut the margin to 2-1 on a pass from Paige Johnson in the 46th minute.
Centennial, however, responded just eight minutes later when Reese Western, who recently returned from a knee injury, made a low cross to Griffin a one-timer into the corner of the goal.
"I think we came out really strong," Griffin said. "We were kind of iffy toward the middle, but once they scored, we got back out momentum and we were really strong. I think we picked it up toward the end."
Baxter has adjusted his lineup several times this season to deal with numerous injuries. He also has been playing several underclassmen who continue to adapt to the speed of the game.
"The most important thing I take from this game is we have to stop panicking and utilize what they give you," Baxter said. "We over-pursue so much when all we have to do is switch fields and keep the ball. We've got a long ways to go. We are playing decent soccer, but it's too hot and cold. We have to understand the value of keeping the ball."