Flat for the past month in coach Mike Siegert's mind Centennial's boys lacrosse team chose an opportune time to up the intensity.
In yesterday's Class 4A-3A, Region I championship against South Carroll, the pumped-up Eagles scored five goals in the first 6 1/2 minutes. It was plenty for host Centennial, which won its second straight region title with a convincing 12-4 victory.
Twelfth-ranked Centennial (14-1) advances to the state semifinals Saturday at UMBC.
"We've been flat for a long time," Siegert said. "We've been going through the motions, so it was nice to see them come out ready to play. It's the first time in a while we've been really juiced up, so the first quarter was nice."
Attacks David Saunders, Rob Hauff and Tony Harding were Centennial's big point producers, scoring four, three and two goals, respectively. They set the tempo early as each player scored in the first 3 1/2 minutes for a 3-0 lead. Hauff was in perfect position, intercepting a pass in front of goalie Clay Arthur (six saves) and flicking it in.
Harding was the architect of the fourth goal. Streaking down the right sideline, he spotted cutting midfield er Jeremy Odelius with precision. Odelius scored at 5:45 and Saunders' second goal at 6:30 accounted for the 5-0 cushion.
"We've been playing flat the last couple of weeks and we realized we had to come out with a lot of incentive," Hauff, who had a team-high four assists, said. "They had a strong defense, but we really moved the ball today."
xTC South Carroll (12-2), whose only two losses this season were to Centennial, played a zone defense nearly the entire game. The Eagles solved it with a patient offense, while their second midfield of Odelius (two goals), David Peek, Mike Shackelford and Tom Adam contributed significantly.
"We count on those guys to play defense for us and to give the first middies a break," Siegert said. "So to get some goals from those guys is a nice, added plus."
Siegert admitted that "throughout the game, I always had the feeling that they could explode," and the Cavaliers got on the board with Greg Blair's unassisted goal at 2:04 of the second period, creating a 6-1 game. But Hauff answered unassisted a minute later, fighting off a check behind the goal to bounce it past Arthur.
South Carroll failed to score in the third period, mostly because senior goalie Will Hong (nine saves) stopped a cluster of point-blank shots. Despite his solid performance, Hong still praised his defensive protection.
"The defense helped me out a lot," he said. "I felt comfortable and confident with the defense. Everybody wanted it so bad."
Odelius' and Saunders' goals just before the end of the quarter made for a seven-goal difference heading into the final period.
"The next round's going to be for great teams," South Carroll coach Gene Brown said. "You'll see one of them in Centennial."