Atholton soccer coach Reg Hahne thought that if his team could prevent Centennial's Brian West from scoring, it could beat the No. 2 Eagles.
The Raiders stopped West, who has 10 goals this season. But they failed to stop Morgan Kershner (two assists), Matt Stephenson (two goals) and Cory Piette (one goal, one assist) and dropped a 3-0 decision at Centennial yesterday.
Kershner, who found out 10 minutes before the game that he would play attacking midfield instead of stopper, was instrumental in creating a Centennial attack that outshot Atholton 15-7. He played a role normally taken by Brad Terrill, who is sidelined with a sprained ankle.
"We didn't play well in the first half, so we got chewed out at halftime and we responded to that in the second half by getting the ball to our front runners and clearing it when we had to," Kershner said. "I was moved to midfield because we knew West would be marked."
"I thought we would be able to attack them," Centennial coach Bill Stara said about switching Kershner. "Morgan was the man of the game for us today. He did a lot of running."
Because it used five defenders, Atholton (4-3-2 overall, 1-2-1 league) was left with just three midfielders, and that gave Kershner, one of only three starting Centennial seniors, plenty of room to operate.
Hahne thought his defense played well despite allowing three goals.
"Adam Shaivitz did a great job in the midfield for us. Ben Garbart and Ryan Rees stopped West," Hahne said. "I was happy with the level of our play. It was much higher than last week.
"When you play Centennial the midfield isn't really a big part of the game. It's usually played at one end or the other."
Centennial (7-1-1, 4-0) scored in the 20th minute when Stephenson volleyed a header pass from Piette from 20 yards out and beat Atholton goalkeeper Remington Stone, who had left the goal.
The Eagles had another excellent scoring chance in the first half, but Stone came out and smothered a shot by Kershner, who had been set up on an outstanding pass from West.
Piette scored Centennial's second goal on a 20-yard volley in the 58th minute. Atholton had headed out Kershner's corner kick, and as the Raiders started to push out, Piette was standing at the 20. His soft kick hit the crossbar and bounced down into the goal.
The Eagles then scored in the 78th minute when Stephenson headed in a corner kick by Kershner for his seventh goal this season.
"Atholton was good in the air and the score doesn't really tell you how close the game was," Kershner said. "With some breaks Atholton could have scored a couple of times."