Centennial loses shutout, but not game


Well, nobody's perfect.

But the Centennial girls soccer defense came close against Howard County competition -- statistically, at least.

Until yesterday, the No. 5 Eagles had shut out every county opponent. They even held Glenelg scoreless through three quarters of yesterday's game, but the Gladiators finally broke the choke hold on a quirky play in the 61st minute.

With Eagles keeper Rima Sidhu coming out, sweeper Tania Riismandel tried to clear the ball from the box. Her kick rebounded off charging striker Emily Cox and landed in the net.

That ended the shutout streak, but it was not enough to end the winning streak. Centennial (12-0 overall, 7-0 league) went on to a 4-2 victory over visiting Glenelg and officially earned the county title it had sewn up last week.

In fact, co-coach Kevin Flynn said just knowing that they already had the title probably contributed to a rare down game for the Eagles' defense.

"I hope it's just a problem of not being able to get up for a game that really had little significance," said Flynn.

"We had the county clinched and we know who we're playing Friday in the playoffs [No. 8 South Carroll]."

Still, the Eagles defense remains one of the stingiest around. Riismandel, stopper Shara Boonshaft and backs Gina Dinisio, Tiffany Cronin and Mallory Groves have allowed just nine goals. Sidhu has given up only six.

At the same time, the Eagles' offense has scored 48 times, including 24 against county competition.

That offense was on display yesterday as the Eagles dominated much of the first half. Michelle Clare and Lauren Molinaro each headed in a corner kick by Boonshaft to give the Eagles a 2-0 halftime lead.

Exceptional midfield play, especially by Molinaro and Sarah Bartholomew, forced Glenelg (7-4-1, 3-3-1) out of its defensive-oriented game plan by the end of the first half.

"You've got to beat their midfield, and between Molinaro and Bartholomew it was hard to beat their midfield," said Glenelg coach Mike Williams. "Besides, when you're behind 2-0 you can't play defense and beat Centennial."

Four minutes into the second half, the Gladiators fell behind 3-0 when Clare finished off a shot by Jen Coulson that died right on the line.

Glenelg got one back on Cox's goal, but Clare was not finished. She capped off the hat trick on a feed from Molinaro for a 4-1 lead in the 84th minute.

Lee Custer gave the Gladiators their final goal on a well-placed direct kick from about 25 yards out that sailed over Sidhu's hands just under the crossbar.

Now that the regular season is over, Boonshaft said the Eagles should not have trouble bringing more intensity to their playoff games.

"We do get up for the big games," said Boonshaft, whose team put together its best effort in a 1-0 overtime win against defending county champ Wilde Lake.

"The thing is for every team, playing us is a big game, and that's something I don't think we realize all the time. If they lose, it's no big deal, but if they beat us it would be a huge win for them.

"We have to be a little more ready for that."

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