Immediately after winning the opening draw control of the second half, Centennial pushed the pace. Alaina Kelly caught the in-tight feed from Gabriella Bieberich and scored her third of four goals on the afternoon.
Just over a minute later, Bieberich found an opening and scored her only goal.
Continuing to push the pace, Kelly and Abby Cudzilo scored back-to-back goals, giving the Eagles an eight-goal lead less than four minutes into the second half. It was a defining stretch in Centennial’s 12-7 victory over Wilde Lake.
“That’s something that we’ve been working on is starting half’s strong,” Centennial coach Ellen Johnson said. “We’re really working to play a complete game. So, being able to come out after halftime and breaking momentum, starting out strong with a couple goals was really great. We talked a lot about our tempo and making sure that we were playing fast and to our tempo. I think they did accomplish that going into the second half.”
Their commitment to playing fast paid dividends throughout. Down a player after being assessed a yellow card, the Eagles defense caused a turnover, immediately pushing the ball off the restart. Later in the possession, Kelly found Cudzilo all alone in front of the net.
“The pressure sort of helps us to rise to the occasion because we’re very much a responsive team,” Kelly said. “Once we feel their lead, that’s when we sort of kick in and it helps us to get our pace off and really get going offensively.”
That goal pushed Centennial’s lead to 4-1 with 10:37 left in the first half. Feeding off that energy, the Eagles (7-3, 6-3 Howard County) scored two more for a 6-1 lead with less than five minutes left in the frame. Kayla Hunter scored for Wilde Lake (3-6, 3-5) with less than 90 seconds remaining, giving it a spark entering halftime.
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With their four-goal halftime lead, the Eagles’ blistering start to the second half allowed them to gain full control. Down by eight, the Wildecats responded with consecutive goals from Hunter and Safaa Sattar. While Wilde Lake’s offense found a little rhythm, Romée Kamphuis was strong in net, preventing the Eagles from growing their lead. She ultimately finished with 15 saves, including several on free position opportunities.
“What impressed me the most about Romèe is she’s very resilient,” Wilde Lake coach Michael Rhodovi said. “She loves to have fun in the goal. She rallies her teammates around her and she constantly does it with a smile on her face.”
However, Cudzilo could only be contained for so long. She scored her sixth goal halting the Wildecats’ run with 17:15 remaining. She thrived initiating the offense, dodging around the cage, but also cutting to open areas.
Trailing by seven with under 10 minutes to go, Wilde Lake’s offense began to create more opportunities sharing the ball. However, Eagles goalie Ava Welsh stepped up down the stretch with four of her nine saves during that period. She consistently cut off the angle to the Wildecats shooters.
“Ava is always there for us,” Cudzilo said. “She can get any shot and it’s just a big help on defense and helps us move the ball out quickly.”