Centennial lacrosse coach Mike Siegert calls this a mission season.
"We're on a mission to prove Howard County lacrosse belongs up there with the big boys. We want to win county, regional and state titles," he said.
Sixth-ranked Centennial (7-1 overall, 3-0 league) took a big step toward a county title yesterday by dominating last season's nemesis, Oakland Mills, 14-8.
The Scorpions were the only county team to beat the Eagles last season, and that loss motivated Centennial to play harder yesterday.
"We've thought about last year's loss all year," said Centennial co-captain Joe Lowrance. "You could tell we were ready when we banged in those three early goals."
Lowrance, a senior midfielder, scored the first goal on an assist by Jason Newman just 37 seconds into the game to set the tone.
Centennial played ball control and pinned back Oakland Mills' defense most of the game. Tony Harding led Centennial with four goals and one assist, and Jeff Iannarino had two goals and five assists.
"I think Centennial was on offense 30 minutes to our 10," Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet said. "Eight goals was a lot to score for as little as we had the ball."
No. 14 Oakland Mills (7-1, 2-1), which had not allowed more than six goals in a game, had trouble going from defense to offense.
"Their riding was excellent," Hovet said. "We didn't clear the ball once in the third quarter. They shut off Sam Smith [17 goals, 19 assists] and had a nice group of long sticks who could handle the ball."
Smith got one goal and one assist. The Eagles' defense included Matt Rainwater, Brian Harding and Chris Cochran. The area's leading scorer, Scorpion Iggy Levelev (43 goals, 13 assists), scored three goals.
"They destroyed us on ground balls," said Hovet, whose Scorpions had 36 to Centennial's 53.
Centennial sophomore midfielder Scott Bross won 21 of 24 faceoffs.
In last year's 8-6 loss to Oakland Mills, Centennial led 5-1 at halftime. The Eagles were determined not to allow Oakland Mills to come back this time after taking a 7-4 halftime lead.
The Scorpions fell behind 9-4 early in the third quarter on goals by Rob Hauff (9:39) and Newman (8:42).
Levelev scored two straight for Oakland Mills, closing the gap to 9-6 after three quarters. But Newman scored two minutes into the fourth to douse the Scorpions' comeback.
"Oakland Mills is a good team that didn't give up," said Centennial co-captain Hauff. "We learned our lesson last year. They were aggressive. This was more physical than last year's game."
Lowrance agreed that Oakland Mills delivered more hard hits than Centennial. "But we'll take the hits for a win. You never hurt as much when you win," he said.