With about eight minutes gone in the second half yesterday, Centennial midfielder Sarah Bartholomew took a shot that rolled past a diving goalkeeper and into the net from about 15 yards out, giving the fifth-ranked Eagles a comfortable lead over host Hammond.
Or so they thought.
Moments after what they thought to be a goal -- on a ball they claimed crossed the plane before rolling through a hole in the net and out of play -- the referees ruled the ball had missed wide.
The decision sent Centennial's bench into a frenzy. After a listless first half, it was just the motivation the Eagles needed.
They responded by dominating play the rest of the way, outshooting the Bears, 10-1, in the second half en route to a 2-0 win in a Howard County League game.
"I think it was definitely [the non-goal] that fired us up," said Centennial striker Michelle Clare, who led her team on offense with a goal and an assist. "After that we just wanted to take it to them."
Clare did her part by putting the Eagles (7-0 overall, 3-0 in the league) on the board with about 24:00 left in the first half. After taking a pass from Bartholomew, she sent a grounder from 18 yards out past Hammond goalie Laine Zelkowitz and into the net to make it 1-0.
Then, just minutes after the second-half controversy, Clare got the assist, picking up a loose ball in front of the goal and passing it to Jen Coulson, who shot into an empty net to extend Centennial's lead to 2-0 with just under 31 minutes left.
The Bears (2-5, 0-3) had their best chance to score midway through the first half, but Angela Trancucci's short-range shot after a Hammond corner kick was blocked away.
For Eagles first-year coach Dave Greenberg, the win was a welcomed sight after his team's uninspired play in the first half.
"We were upset at halftime because we felt we weren't playing well," said Greenberg, whose team was outshot, 5-4, in the first half. "We talked to them about getting after it a little bit. In the first half, they were beating us to the ball."