Marriotts Ridge's Gracie Kennedy talks about the Mustangs' 21-7 victory over Centennial on Monday, April 29, 2019.
For a Marriotts Ridge team that has put an emphasis on focusing on the present this spring, the little milestones have subsequently been a bit sweeter.
The first standout moment came during the first week of April following a breakthrough victory over Glenelg and another came Monday afternoon against Centennial, courtesy of a 21-7 win over the Eagles that guarantees the program at least a share of its first county championship since 2016.
There are bigger goals ahead in terms of the postseason, but Mustangs’ coach Amanda Brady doesn’t want her players looking farther than what’s right in front of them.
“We talk all the time about one game at a time and the hope is along the way that mentality leads to being able to have moments like today where you earn a piece of a county [title],” Brady said. “For us I think being able to have that sense of accomplishment is exciting and important in terms of confidence when you head in toward the playoffs.”
Marriotts Ridge (6-0, 10-2) has just one county game left — Friday against Mt. Hebron — and currently sits a game in the loss column ahead of both Centennial (6-1, 6-4) and Glenelg (4-1, 9-2).
The Mustangs certainly wasted no time setting the tone against the Eagles, scoring three times in the opening minute. But just as important as the start was the manner in which Marriotts Ridge kept its foot on the pedal offensively.
Emma Miller dominated in the circle, winning 12 of 16 draws in the opening half, and Marriotts Ridge built a 13-0 lead before Centennial finally got on the scoreboard.
“It was so important that we remained focused. Obviously they are a good team and got a decent amount of goals on us [by the end], so we really had to come together as a team and not lose that momentum in the beginning that we started out with,” said Gracie Kennedy, who finished with five goals and two assists.
In addition to Kennedy, Marriotts Ridge also got huge efforts from Eloise Clevenger (5 goals), Victoria Hensh (4 goals), Katie Thompson (3 goals, 1 assist) and Erin Cooke (4 assists).
Centennial, which was led by three goals apiece from Louisa Lagera and Rasa Welsh, did regroup to score three unanswered goals right before halftime to temporarily cut its deficit to 13-3. But Marriotts Ridge found its rhythm again to open the second half and was able to officially put the game out of reach.
“One of their biggest advantages is that they are extremely fast. They move the ball well, but not only that they can also run the ball,” Centennial coach Bethany Cunha said. “It’s beautiful to watch them play unless you are the one they are doing it against. But we are using this game, and the rest of our games before playoffs, as learning tools to make us better.
“We are going up against really good teams that we won’t have to see in the playoffs, so this is a real opportunity for us to identify things that we can improve on so once we see similarly talented teams … we are ready.”