Watching film of Centennial last night, Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker quickly realized his scouting report from their matchup earlier this season was useless.
“I threw it out,” he said. “I completely started a whole new scouting report. It’s not the same team.”
The Eagles dropped to 1-2 after the Gladiators rolled to a 13-2 victory on March 28. Twelve straight victories later, Centennial met Glenelg Friday night with a chance to extend its streak and avenge its worst loss of the season.
The only problem: the Gladiators are also a different team, one that extended their winning streak to seven games with a commanding 7-3 victory to advance to the 3A/2A South region semifinals.
“I think we’ve been building. The beginning of our season was obviously tough,” Hatmaker said, referencing their 3-6 start to the year. “Our kids have kind of jelled. We’re still really young but our sophomores are playing like juniors and our juniors are playing like seniors.”
Centennial scored the first goal of the game and led 1-0 after the first quarter before Glenelg scored two goals in the second quarter and five in the third to pull away. Eric Gruber had a hat trick and four others had one tally.
Hatmaker said that his new scouting report on the Eagles included trying to curb their aggressiveness, which he said was the biggest transformation from their first matchup. He said it’s a style that his team has adapted as well, but the difference ultimately came on the defensive end and their execution leading to several transition goals in the third quarter.
Facing teams like Severna Park, Broadneck, C.M. Wright and Westminster among others in its non-conference schedule also helped them prepare for the stretch run, Hatmaker said.
“Offensively, defensively, I thought if we could get them in settled situations and get the matchups that we wanted — and we played this time with some matchups that we didn’t have last time and I thought that was big,” he said. “... We had a good night but I thought they were right there. I don’t think the score indicates how close it was.”
Eagles coach Nick Kellinger missed the majority of the first half because his wife gave birth to her second daughter but he arrived in time to see his team trailing by a goal. Goalie Jack Schlossberg stopped 10 shots in the first half but Glenelg took advantage of the opportunities it missed in the first half in the second.
Offensively, Centennial couldn’t sustain possessions and the majority of them were one-and-done. Gladiators goalie Brian Doughty (seven saves) took care of the chances on net, and goals from Stafford Smith and Thomas Thurmond (two goals) were too little, too late for the Eagles.
“Glenelg is a great team. They always are ... and they gave us all they could handle. It feels a little but like déjà vu for us,” Kellinger said. “You’ve got to play a complete game against Glenelg because they battle for ground balls and they’re great in transition. If you give them opportunities and you don’t take yours, the game can get away from you.”
Despite the loss, it was a breakthrough year for Centennial. It went 5-9 in 2015 and 6-9 last season but ends the year 13-3 overall and 9-2 in county with notable victories over Howard, Mt. Hebron and River Hill.
“It was a great season. The kids came together after a rocky start. They battled in every single game. We had ups and downs. We were young but we never made that an excuse and we found a way to win some games and beat some good teams,” Kellinger said. “But it’s hard once you get in the playoffs and past that first round where every team is good and you really need to be at your best. Today we just weren’t as good as we could’ve been.”
Glenelg now has a chance to avenge its most recent defeat on Monday. It lost to the Marriotts Ridge, 6-4, on April 21.
“I thought against Marriotts Ridge, they played really well and we didn’t. Some of that is us and some of that is them dictating the tempo,” Hatmaker said. “... We’ll have our work cut out for us.”
Glenelg (10-6) — 7, Centennial (13-3) — 3
Goals: G — Eric Gruber 3, Chase Collier, Tyler Nalls, Johnny Chaisson, Ryan Hopkins; C — Thomas Thurmond 2, Stafford Smith
Assists: G — Tyler Reiff 2, Michael Doughty; C — Jeremy Wilson
Saves: G — Brian Doughty 7; C — Jack Schlossberg 13
Halftime: 2-1, Glenelg
3A/2A South, Section I semifinals:
Marriotts Ridge (11-5) — 12, Mt. Hebron (7-9) — 9
3A/2A South, Section II semifinals:
Atholton (9-7) — 15, Wilde Lake (8-5) — 5
Northeast-AA — 13, River Hill (8-8) — 8
4A/3A East, Section I semifinals:
Howard (11-5) — 15, Arundel — 4