After a back-and-forth opening half against visiting Atholton on Tuesday, where neither team had led by more than a goal, Centennial coach Bethany Cunha brought her team together during the break and encouraged them to let loose a little bit.
“I think they were feeling the pressure of what was basically a tennis match in that first half, trading goals back and forth. So we talked about settling down and putting some fun back into the game,” she said. “We wanted them to feed off one another, stop overthinking things, and that’s exactly what they did.”
Breaking open what was a one-goal game at the break, sparked by a couple early second-half goals from sophomore Louisa Lagera, Centennial took control down the stretch on its way to a 15-10 victory.
Lagera, who finished with four goals and an assist, was joined in the offensive outburst by big efforts from Rasa Welsh (5 goals, assist) and Marissa Lagera (3 goals). As a team, the Eagles improve to 2-0 on the season.
“I think tonight was a really good test for us, playing a team that challenged us a little bit and made us have to dig down and find that fire,” Cunha said. “Once we started using other players on the field, moving the ball, you could see that things started clicking and the momentum changed in our favor.”
For Atholton (1-1, 2-1), which was led by three goals apiece from Kendall Dean and Molly Flynn, the game was somewhat of a mixed bag.
Coach Laura Forester said it was tough seeing the game slip away in the second half, but she also saw huge areas of improvement compared to last year’s meeting with the Eagles that her team lost by a score of 13-3.
“I think [Centennial] came out of the gate just a little bit stronger than us in that second half, but other than that it was a pretty even game. We really battled, and this was a huge improvement for us compared to last year,” Forester said. “I think we have a really strong group of girls, not only skill wise but also in the way they are able to really play together.”
In addition to the Centennial offense picking things up in the second half, Cunha also commended the effort on the defensive end to help create some separation.
“Our defense, which is the area we are working on the most right now, really stepped up. Sarah Toth, Brook Anderson and our goalie Sarah [Thorman] in the second half — those three in particular — they all came out and showed what they are capable of.”
Centennial will look to keep its momentum going on Friday at home against Reservoir, while Atholton travels to face defending county-champion Glenelg that same day.
Centennial (2-0, 2-0) — 15, Atholton (1-1, 2-1) — 10
Goals: C — Rasa Welsh 5, Lou Lagera 4, Marissa Lagera 3, Nicole Ouellette 1, Alaina Kelly 1, Carolina Pellegrini 1; A — Kendall Dean 3, Molly Flynn 3, Olivia Chory 2, Ella Farris 2.
Assists: C — Alaina Kelly 2, Nicole Ouellette 2, Lou Lagera 1, Rasa Welsh 1.
Saves: C — Sarah Thorman 10; A — Kyleigh Eaton 14.