For a good part of yesterday afternoon's Centennial-Westminster girls soccer match, Eagles coach Rick Pizarro may have thought he was watching a repeat of his team's narrow win over the Owls a year ago.
Second-ranked and defending state champion Centennial outshot and outplayed the visiting Owls in the first half, but only found itself up 1-0, the same score the Eagles won by a year ago.
This time, though, Centennial found the net one more time in the second half and came away with a 2-0 win.
With the win, Centennial improved to 9-1, while Westminster -- now looking for a home win Thursday against C. M. Wright to guarantee a playoff spot -- fell to 7-4.
Freshman Michele Clare's goal with seven minutes left in the first half proved to be the game-winner.
Clare beat a Westminster defender in front and sent a rocket shot that Westminster senior goalie Kara Hedges got a piece of but couldn't keep out of the net. It was Clare's ninth goal of the season.
At that point, the Eagles had an 8-0 advantage in shots but couldn't get anything else by Hedges and a solid Owls defense.
"We pressed throughout and definitely had enough opportunities," said Pizarro, whose Eagles came into the match averaging four goals.
"They have a very good goalkeeper and an aggressive defense. They're no pushover."
Senior Natalie Rich scored the insurance goal with a header midway through the second half off a corner kick from sophomore Shara Boonshaft. The goal came after the Owls had put on some pressure of their own in an attempt to tie the game.
"We really controlled the midfield but needed to come up with better shots," Pizarro said.
"We would have had better opportunities with more crosses -- we only had four -- but we were taking the longer shots instead."
After Centennial took the first four shots in the second half, the Owls' offense woke up with about 25 minutes left.
After Heather Mauritz just missed a streaking Mandy Hunt with a cross to the right side, the Owls had two scrambles directly in front of the Centennial goal -- one coming off a corner kick -- but couldn't connect.
"Traditionally, the varsity has had some problems getting off fast in the first half," said Westminster assistant coach Ann Marie Brennan.
"We made a few adjustments at the half and had some great opportunities to tie things up, but it just didn't happen."
Hedges made 12 saves in defeat, as Centennial outshot Westminster, 17-2. The Eagles also had a 10-1 edge in corner kicks.
"Kara did an excellent job and the rest of the defense really played well also." Brennan said.