After two straight years finishing one win short of a county title, Centennial took a huge step toward finally getting over that hump on Tuesday afternoon at the Timbers at Troy.
The Eagles used a balanced scoring effort, headlined by Joanna Park (20 points) and Morgan Taylor (19), to score 61 points as a team and edge past Marriotts Ridge (56 points) and River Hill (33) in a tri-match featuring a trio of previously unbeaten squads. Centennial (8-0) now controls its destiny with two matches left in the regular season in terms of the county title race.
“We’ve always been so close every year, just haven’t quite been able to break through,” Centennial coach Stephen Lee said. “I think there was just always a little bit too much pressure on one or two girls when we got in the big matches. But this year, the girls know that no one player has to do it all themselves and I think it has allowed them to play loose.”
The Eagles haven’t won a county championship since 2009 and the last two years have finished at 10-1. This year’s starting group that features three seniors has been on a mission since day one this season and Park says that they are trying to not only win for themselves but also for recently graduated Isabel Trojillo, who never got to hoist a team trophy.
“It feels amazing, it really does and I just got a text from Isabel saying congratulations to us. For me at least, I really wanted to do this for Isabel because those last three or four years we were always second place,” Park said.
While Centennial won the match as a team, Marriotts Ridge’s Faith McIlvain stole the show individually to keep her team in it until the very end.
The Mustangs’ junior fired a match-best 27 points (even par), including birdies on the fifth and ninth holes. Her tee shot on the par three fifth hole bounced in and out of the hole, for a near hole-in-one, before settling a few feet from the pin.
But for as good as McIlvain was, to go along with 12 points from Viola Kim and 11 from Julianna Dorsch behind her for Marriotts Ridge (9-1), it ended up being not quite enough. Centennial put all four of its players in double figures — Katie Cody had 12 points and Megumi Fukuzawa 10.
“I’m really proud of the girls because they all just did their jobs. They knew that they didn’t have to beat Faith individually, they just had to all score consistently,” Lee said. “She’s a great player, but we believed that we had the depth from top to bottom to still come out on top. That’s what being a team is all about.”
Up in the first group, alongside McIlvain, Park and Taylor did a good job of pushing one another along. Park had four pars and Taylor had three, with the duo combining to score at least three points on every hole but one.
“Playing with Morgan … there is a competition between us, but it’s a healthy competition. And that healthy competition allows both of us to shoot the best that we can,” Park said.
River Hill (7-2-1) was led by Adrienne Lesho (16 points) in what ended up being the team’s first two losses of the season.
Centennial 61, Marriotts Ridge 56, River Hill 33
C (8-0): Park 20, Taylor 19, Cody 12, Fukuzawa 10.
MR (9-1): McIlvain 27, Kim 12, Dorsch 11, Bivens 6.
RH (7-2-1): Lesho 16, Sandhu 12, Zhao 4, Chang 1.
Hammond 22, Oakland Mills 11, Long Reach 0
For the second straight year the Golden Bears captured the Iron Skillet, getting a match-high 10 points from Ashleigh Louie. Saili Khorjekar was right behind her with eight points, while Shreya Tuckley rounded out the scoring with four.
The 22 total team points tied a season high for Hammond.
Rachel Luthardt’s seven points led the way for Oakland Mills.
Ha (4-5): Louie 10, Khorjekar 8, Tuckley 4.
OM (3-6): Luthardt 7, Chang 3, Valeza 1.