Howard County Times

Helen Baldy’s 4 goals power Centennial field hockey to 6-1 season-opening win over Reservoir

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Centennial field hockey's Ava Rudy, left, and Helen Baldy pose after Thursday's season-opening win over Reservoir.

It wasn’t the start to the new season Centennial field hockey was looking for. The Eagles surrendered a goal to Reservoir’s Molly Butterfield less than 90 seconds into Thursday’s game.

But Eagles’ first-year coach Todd Petrlik continually encouraged his team to apply pressure. They quickly grabbed momentum later in the first quarter on Ava Rudy’s tying goal. That was the first of six straight Centennial goals over the final three-and-a-half quarters in a season-opening 6-1 win.


“We have a really athletic team and we want to use that to our advantage,” Petrlik said. “When we can pressure like that and use our athletes then we’re going to be successful.”

Centennial’s unrelenting pressure ignited its offense. Senior midfielder Helen Baldy scored her first goal midway through the second to put the Eagles on top. However, the Northeastern commit was only getting started.


Baldy spearheaded the Eagles’ offense with four goals and an assist. Excelling off penalty corners, Baldy provided Centennial (1-0) with key momentum entering the second half. The Eagles were awarded a penalty corner just before the first half expired and Baldy put away a diving back-handed shot to extend the lead.

“That’s something we’ve worked on a lot in practice the last few days,” Baldy said of the defensive pressure. “The last few days with the heat we’ve been sprinting indoors and getting fitness up. So, we’re able to play the full four quarters full speed and I think that’s really helped us be able to keep the lead and win these games.”

Centennial’s midfield pressure extended into the third quarter as Reservoir struggled to consistently hold the ball. Neither team scored in the frame, but the Eagles dictated the possession and took more of the high-quality chances.

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“A lot of the girls on the team are coming up from junior varsity to varsity, so they’ve learned what a varsity game speed is like,” Reservoir coach Megan Maloney said as her team fell to 0-1.

Centennial’s offense once again hit its stride in the fourth. The Eagles converted on two of their three penalties in the period, scoring in eerily similar ways on both.

As a corner inserter, Rudy delivered a pair of precise feeds to Baldy who rocketed a pair of shots into the back of the net, one on her forehand and one on the backhand. Baldy also showcased her ability to facilitate, setting up fellow senior Abby Conrad on a goal off a deflection.

“Before each corner, we always talk to each other to know what to expect,” Rudy said. “There’s always a Plan B. We get it to Helen and then if they pressure her, then she has someone to slip it to. We talk and I know exactly who to go to. I look for the space and for their stick to give them a good opportunity to make a shot.”

A young team with two freshmen and three sophomores, the Eagles leaned on their captains, while also receiving vital contributions from younger players.


“It’s really encouraging. We’re so proud as captains to see the freshmen stepping up and taking the ball downfield and being confident,” Baldy said. “That’s all we can ask,”

Rudy added: “Showing effort is just the biggest thing. It always means a lot for everyone on the team when you put that extra effort in because it means everyone cares.”