The undefeated Oakland Mills girls soccer team conceded yesterday's game against second-ranked Centennial before it began. The visiting Eagles (8-1, 4-1) won easily, 4-0.
With regional playoffs approaching and injuries in need of healing, coach Nancy Shea held back four starting players for the eighth-ranked Scorpions.
Two of her injured players did not play. Two others played sparingly. She was hoping to get all four players healthy for tough games next week against Mount Hebron and Hammond, schools in the same 2A-1A class as Oakland Mills.
"We didn't give up completely, and I thought we'd stay with them better than we did. But I knew we were going down today. The two games next week are more important," Shea said. "The girls wanted to go for it today, especially the seniors, since we won't play Centennial again this season. I hated to take the air out of their balloon."
On the bench the entire game were sweeper Laura Ellestad (sprained ankle) and midfielder Jenny Arbogast (bruised sternum). Playing half the game were striker Tyann Blissett (ankles) and stopper Courtney Pierce (shin splints).
Centennial, defending Class 4A-3A champion, has most of the same players who last year ended Oakland Mills' six-year reign as county champion. And the Eagles thought that might motivate Oakland Mills (8-1-1, 3-1-1) to come out fired up. It didn't happen. The Scorpions care more about winning the state title than the county title.
The game developed slowly. Centennial's Allison Bielski was knocked down in the penalty box in the 22nd minute, and sweeper Paige Nettlebladt made the penalty kick past goalkeeper Lauren McHargue's lower left side.
In the 34th minute, Alison Lages took a pass from Bielski and converted it into a goal from 20 yards out. The shot hit the upper right corner of the net.
Freshman Michelle Clare made it 3-0 on the game's most exciting goal one minute before halftime. Clare cut diagonally across the goal six yards out, and, under a tight mark, took a cross from Natalie Rich that Clare reversed to the other side of the goal. It was Clare's eighth goal.
Rich, unguarded at the 15-yard line in the 45th minute, kicked in Centennial's final goal off a pass from Bielski.
"We made 11 crosses today, and when you make that many, you're bound to win because it creates constant pressure," Centennial coach Rick Pizarro said.
Centennial took 21 shots and held Oakland Mills to eight.
A balanced attack typifies Centennial's play this season. Twelve players have scored at least one goal.
Centennial's leading scorer, Vicky Brunt (nine goals, eight assists), was shut out.
Oakland Mills' top player, Blissett (seven goals, nine assists), reiterated her coach's' feelings: "We felt this game wasn't important to us. We were saving ourselves for next week."