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Centennial girls lacrosse outlasts River Hill to stay undefeated in league play

Centennial sophomore Louisa Lagera talks about the Eagles' 16-15 victory over River Hill on Tuesday, April 23.

After a quiet first half Tuesday afternoon on the road against River Hill, Centennial’s Louisa Lagera got a much-needed pep talk from a familiar face.

“[My sister Marissa] said ‘Dude, you got this just like against Atholton, you can pull it together and you can help us win this.’ That extra confidence and like knowing that she has my back and that she has faith in me, just really helped push me,” Lagera said.

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The Eagles’ sophomore attack responded in a big way, scoring or assisting on eight of her team’s 10 goals in the second half — including converting the game-winning score with just under two minutes remaining — on the way to turning a two-goal halftime deficit into a 16-15 victory.

Lagera (5 goals, 5 assists), her sister Marissa (3 goals, 2 assists) and Rasa Welsh (5 goals, 1 assist) spearheaded the offensive effort for Centennial (5-0, 5-3) on the way to pulling out the victory in a game that saw the lead change hands three times over the final nine minutes.

“I think today came down to executing in crunch time and we’ve spent a lot of time practicing scenarios ever since we lost by one goal against Patterson Mill earlier this year. That game taught us a lot and today we were able to take some of those lessons and use them to our advantage,” Centennial coach Bethany Cunha said. “We were playing catch-up for a lot of the game today, made a lot of silly mistakes especially in terms of turnovers, but we never panicked and that was definitely good to see.”

River Hill (2-4, 3-6) fell behind 3-0 in the first seven minutes, but regrouped to go on a 7-1 run over the next 15 minutes to take a three-goal advantage of its own. Centennial made several runs late in the opening half and in the early stages of the second, but the Hawks managed to stay ahead all the way until the final 10 minutes of the contest.

It wasn’t until there was just 8:42 left in regulation that Welsh registered an unassisted tally to give Centennial its first lead since the first 10 minutes of the game.

Still, River Hill regrouped to score two in a row after that to go back in front — with Lindsey Miller converting a feed from Molly Maloney with 2:49 left to put the Hawks ahead 15-14.

Welsh proceeded to win three straight draw controls after that, however, to give Centennial the possessions it needed to go back ahead and ultimately run out the clock. Welsh provided the equalizer, Louisa Lagera the go-ahead score and then freshman Alaina Kelly drained the final minute by playing keep away while racing around the River Hill goal.

Hawks’ coach Amy Weinberg said it was an inspired effort from her group, which lost by a score of 16-7 against Centennial last March. In the critical moments, however, River Hill strayed away from the things that had gotten it the lead.

“I think we started to panic a little bit and got in our own heads when we lost the lead. We gave up a few fouls, a few eight meters and lost the draw … things we had done a great job with most of the game to put ourselves ahead,” Weinberg said. “We needed to just slow down a little bit and relax, but we just never were quite able to.”

A roundup of high school varsity action around Howard County on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Senior Lexi Thielemann led River Hill’s offense with four goals, while the freshmen trio of Erin Devine, Molly Maloney and Claire Slade registered three goals apiece. Sophomore goalie Jasmine James also made some huge stops on the way to finishing with 10 saves.

Weinberg said her young group is improving every day.

“Our confidence has gotten bigger and bigger every single game,” she said. “We’re incredibly young, having graduated 11 seniors from last year and our roster this year has nine underclassmen. But those young players are stepping up and everyone seems to be figuring out what their roles are. We’re proving that we can be competitive in this county despite our youth.”

For Centennial, which got nine saves from junior Melissa Notti playing her first full-game at goalie, the win keeps the team unbeaten in league play heading into a gauntlet of a finish to the regular season. The Eagles will play Mt. Hebron, Marriotts Ridge, Glenelg and Howard — all among the county’s top tier — during the next two weeks.

“It’s a brutal stretch, but I will say that today puts some wind under their sails as we move into the rest of the season. We know the challenges ahead and know that we will have to continue improving,” Cunha said.

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Centennial (5-0, 5-3) — 16, River Hill (2-4, 3-6) — 15

Goals: C — L. Lagera 5, Welsh 5, M. Lagera 3, Suhrcke 1, Ouellette, Sullivan 1; RH — Thielemann 4, Devine 3, Maloney 3, Slade 3, Smith 1, Miller 1.

Assists: C — L. Lagera 5, M. Lagera 2, Welsh 1, Pellegrini 1; RH — Devine 1, Maloney 1.

Saves: C — Notti 9; RH — James 10.

Half: 8-6 RH.

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