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River Hill boys soccer stays undefeated with 3-0 win over Centennial

River Hill's Addison Testoff sprints during the boys soccer game.
River Hill's Addison Testoff sprints during the boys soccer game. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda)

The River Hill boys soccer team kept the pressure on visiting Centennial throughout Wednesday night's Howard County soccer match-up.

The No. 5 Hawks made it tough for Centennial to move the ball in so many ways: forcing tough passes, making it difficult to transition up field and limiting shots on goal. And it was because of that pressure-happy scheme that the Hawks were able to remain unbeaten with a 3-0 victory.

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Coach Matt Shagogue encourages his River Hill team (10-0, 7-0) to press teams throughout the game — especially in their own defensive zone — in an effort to create scoring chances.

"The pressure is really what causes everything," Shagogue said. "We figure if we can pressure the ball in the defensive third, we don't have to exert as much energy."

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It's because of this style that River Hill has only allowed three goals so far this season.

Centennial (4-5, 4-4) finished with just two shots on goal Wednesday and really struggled to push the ball into the River Hall end. The Eagles worked throughout the game and couldn't find many scoring chances until the final minutes.

"They do a really nice job of organizing their pressure," Centennial coach Jim Zehe said. "A lot of teams don't play that way. It's hard to adjust to."

River Hill is ranked No. 25 nationally (by Top Drawer) and got two goals from Logan Walker, both in the first half, for a 2-0 lead at the break in against Centennial Michael Heitzmann scored in the second minute of the second half, firing a bullet in from about six yards out for the three-goal lead.

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Heitzmann continued his solid early-season work with the score. He's now posted 11 goals in the team's first 10 games and agreed that the River Hill pressure has been solid all season.

"That's one of our main focuses, pressuring the ball no matter where it is," he said. "We did it well again today."

The Hawks have their sights set on bringing home a state trophy this season. They came close last year, giving up a goal in the final minute to lose to Urbana in the state semifinals after they won the Howard County and region titles. It's a painful loss that drives them this season.

It's why the players worked so hard to get into such good shape and be able to play that pressure-filled brand of soccer that opponents haven't been able to figure out yet this season.

"The guys do it well," Shagogue said. "If we pressure the ball the whole game, then good things will happen."

River Hill 3, Centennial 0

Goals: RH – Walker 2, Heitzmann.

Assists: RH – Peters, Testoff.

Saves: RH – Potts 1, Pats 1; C – N/A.

Half: 2-0 RH.

Other scores:

Atholton 1, Wilde Lake 0

Goal: A – Chris Johnson.

Assist: A – Dylan Royalty.

Saves: A – Noah Bathras 6; WL – N/A.

Mt. Hebron 6, Hammond 0

Goals: MH – Hedges 2, Cooke, Rose, Ordowsky, Palin.

Assists: MH – Linsenmeyer 2, Palin, Rice, Yacynych.

Long Reach 3, Marriotts Ridge 2

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