Centennial boys lacrosse beats Wilde Lake boys lacrosse in a Howard County contest on Friday, April 7, 2017 in Columbia.
After allowing double-digit goals to Marriotts Ridge and Glenelg and a lackluster performance against Reservoir, Centennial coach Nick Kellinger challenged his leaders before the Eagles' game against Wilde Lake on Friday.
Kellinger felt the brothers Mason, a senior defender, and Stafford Smith, a sophomore defender, hadn't played their best game yet and need to in order for Centennial to reach its potential this spring.
It's safe to say they answered the bell, as the Eagles dominated in a 17-0 victory and outshot the Wildecats 45-4 to pick up their first shutout since beating Hammond 20-0 on April 28, 2015.
"A shutout is a hard thing to get no matter who the opponent is and that team has the ability to score. They've got some good players, like Kevin Comeaux and Ryan Tiffey, who can play with anybody," Kellinger said. "We really challenged our best players to step up. Guys like Mason and Stafford, we think they're really good and we weren't sure they had played their best games. They need to be the cornerstone of our defense, and we knew they could play better than they have been. They're starting to really show how good they can be and they showed it today."
Offensively, nine different players scored for Centennial with junior captain Jeremy Wilson leading the way with five goals. Peter Krawczyk added a hat trick of goals and assists and Thomas Thurmond pitched in two goals and an assist while winning 15 of 19 faceoffs.
"I felt like we dominated ground balls and when you don't have to play a lot of defense the other team starts to press a little bit when they do get it. We didn't make mistakes and that's something that killed us against Reservoir and tons of mistakes against Marriotts Ridge and Glenelg," Kellinger said. "Today we just wanted to play four quarters of lacrosse and we did, and we're really happy with how today went."
Despite all the goals, the Eagles (3-2 county, 3-2 overall) didn't get off to a fast start and couldn't capitalize on a two-minute non-releasable penalty late in the first. However, Wilson found the back of the net with five seconds remaining to make it 3-0, and he followed with the next two goals and three of the next four overall in the second to extend the advantage to 7-0.
"Jeremy is a special player. We've known from the beginning and he's started every game and played almost every minute for us. We challenged him to be a leader this year and dictate the pace of our offense," Kellinger said. "I've spent years and years yelling on the sideline like a maniac calling out offensive sets and when to push and all those things but this year I sort of gave that role to him. ... He always makes the right plays and he's our field general out there on offense."
Meanwhile, Wilde Lake (1-2, 4-2), which scored 58 goals in its first five games and won its first four contests, managed just three shots in the first half. Coach Mychael Gaines said his team needs to improve on faceoffs to help set up more offensive possessions.
"We played three games this week and yesterday we couldn't practice, so it was a tough week for us. We found success early on in the season so we just need to find it again," Gaines said. "Centennial is a great team, but we'll come back fighting after this."
The Eagles scored two goals in the first minute of the third quarter and all four goals were assisted, the last of which forced a running clock with two minutes remaining. Five different players scored in the fourth.