BETHESDA -- Walt Whitman, ranked No. 5 in the nation by USA Today, and Centennial, ranked No. 4 in Baltimore, now have played six games decided by one goal over the past four seasons. Two of those games decided Class 3A state championships.
Yesterday's 1-0 victory by Centennial (3-0-2) didn't crown a state champion but it gave Whitman (4-1) its first loss. And the winner of the regular-season meeting between the teams has gone on to win the state title in each of two previous seasons.
The first 37 minutes of the contest had been played last Monday night before a thunderstorm postponed it with Centennial leading, 1-0. The lone goal was scored by striker Brian West off an assist from Kris Dramby.
When the game resumed yesterday, a lot of the intensity of Monday's contest was missing.
"It was kind of anti-climatic," Centennial coach Bill Stara said.
"We had needed to prove to ourselves that we could play with Whitman and we did that on Monday," West said. "We have not been playing consistently this season so we needed this. After the season is over we might look back to this game as the turning point."
Centennial played with less energy than on Monday, perhaps wearyfrom Friday's overtime victory against Bel Air in which West had scored the winning goal.
"[Friday's] game took a lot out of us," West said.
So the Eagles went into a defensive shell in the second half against Whitman. Striker Matt Stephenson moved back to midfield, giving the Eagles a 1-5-4 formation with West up top.
Because of that, Centennial managed only two scoring threats in the second half. Kris Dramby took a throw-in from West in the 43rd minute and drove to goal, but Dramby was run down from behind by Whitman sweeper Giuseppe Gallo, who kicked the ball out of bounds.
West then had an opportunity in the 57th minute. He maneuvered brilliantly to break free and drive to goal, but just as West shot, Gallo caught up to him and snuffed the shot.
Whitman's offense dominated the final 21 minutes with eight shots. Centennial goalkeeper Brock Yetso came up with three saves, including an outstanding one with nine minutes left.
Makenga Tshimanga had gotten open inside the 20-yard line, and Yetso dived left to save a low kick.
Judah Cooks, whom many consider the best player in Maryland, missed a shot with 11 minutes left that was about two feet wide of the right post.
"They had some good chances," West said. "A tie or a loss would have brought us down totally."
Whitman coach Sam DeBone said, "We couldn't draw them out and we did well to get what we did. We thought we could go on the ground against them, so we played three forward. We weren't as creative as we can be."
DeBone used Cooks to collect and distribute the ball until the final minutes when Cooks went up top.
Centennial went to a double stopper in the final minutes.
"With Brock [Yetso] in goal we can defend all day," Stara said.
* Loyola 2, Oakland Mills 1: Jason Rickel and Mike O'Neill each scored as host Loyola (5-2-1) defeating visiting Oakland Mills (3-1).
Rickel's goal at the 19-minute mark of the first half gave Loyola a 1-0 lead. At the 16-minute mark of the second half, O'Neill scored, putting the Dons up 2-0.
Mike Jenkins scored the lone goal for Oakland Mills at the 23-minute mark of the second half. Dom Lattanzi had 12 saves for Loyola.
* Atholton 3, Glenelg 2: Stephanie Van Deusen had a goal and an assist as Atholton scored three first-half goals and held off visiting Glenelg. Carolyn Flowers scored both goals for Glenelg.