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Howard County Times
Howard County Sports

Marriotts Ridge boys lacrosse stifles Centennial’s offense in commanding 14-4 regional quarterfinal victory

After the Marriotts Ridge defense forced a turnover, junior defender Alexander Koenig scooped up the loose ground ball sprinting upfield.

Without a Centennial defender closing out to him, Koenig rifled the bounce shot into the back of the net for the Mustangs’ eighth of 10 first-half goals in a commanding 14-4 victory over Centennial.

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With the win, the No. 5 Mustangs advance to the Class 3A East Region I semifinal against top seed Mt. Hebron. Koenig’s goal showcased Marriotts Ridge’s ability to stifle fourth-seeded Centennial’s offense, but also execute in transition.

Leading 10-1 at the half, the Mustangs’ defense suffocated the Eagles quickly pressing out onto their hands. The pressure forced Centennial into quick decisions and errant passes that disrupted its offensive rhythm.

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“We’ve really been working in practice not swinging your stick, not getting yourself out of position defensively,” Marriotts Ridge coach Tom Minard said. “Just making good contact, staying with people. There’s time in practice where we say, ‘Just put your sticks down, play defense with your feet.’ So, I was happy to see that we were much better at doing that, playing good position defense with your feet and keeping your stick on their hand.”

While the Mustangs’ defense was stifling, the offense got going early on the extra-man opportunity. Mac Clevenger scored the opening goal of the game, promptly followed by Carter Ryan’s first of three goals on the night. Ryan excelled as an outside shooter, taking advantage of both time and room.

“Our offense moved the ball well today,” Ryan said. “We slid [the ball] down and ran our plays. We got it done. Every time we’d dodge we would try not to force it inside and get it around the edge. Usually, it was open.”

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Aidan Elliott and Quinn Jenkins also added goals before the first quarter ended, giving the Mustangs a four-goal lead after one. After Josh Flick scored for Centennial less than a minute into the second, Marriott Ridge gained full control. They finished the half with six straight goals.

Pushing the pace off defensive stops, the Mustangs shared the ball with ease. Charlie Burd spearheaded that offensive with a goal and three of his team-high five assists during the frame. Ryan scored his final two goals during the second, as Topher Kennedy and Jenkins also scored.

“They did a great job,” Centennial coach Gregg Smith said. “They have a very good defense, they have one of the best defenders in the county with Casey Pung. They just outplayed us, there’s not much more that I could say.”

Leading by nine at the half, Marriotts Ridge maintained its defensive pressure to start the second half. With tired legs, the Eagles were unable to cut into the deficit any further as Kennedy and Elliott scored to expand the lead to 11 after three quarters. Without a goal in the third, Marriotts Ridge shut out Centennial for roughly 24 minutes.

“I think we finally put a full game together,” Pung said of the defensive performance. “We finally worked together and talked. Tyler Gladstone came up with a bunch of big saves and Tyler’s the foundation of this defense. We’re glad to have him in goal.”

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Centennial added three goals in the fourth from Flick and James MacLellan, but the deficit proved too large to overcome. Now, the Vikings and Mustangs match up for a third time this season in the latest chapter between Route 99 rivals.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Minard said. “Obviously we see them at least once or twice it seems every year. They all play club together and they all know each other. It’ll be another great game and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”


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