Times change as Centennial handles Whitman with ease


Centennial has won three Class 3A state championships in the past four years. Whitman won the other one.

The teams had played each other seven times during that period and Centennial had won five times. All seven games were decided by one goal.

But times change. Whitman graduated 13 seniors and its starting lineup yesterday included eight players who had never played a varsity game before this season.

With 15 minutes left to play at Centennial, the Eagles led Whitman by four goals and Eagles coach Bill Stara waved in the second team. The game ended 4-2.

Centennial's biggest offensive weapons, Brian West (one goal, one assist), Matt Stephenson (two goals) and Matt Laycock (one goal, one assist) each had fine afternoons. They were sitting on the bench, stripping off their socks and jerseys and packing up their bags while discussing the game and keeping one eye on the action.

Suddenly, Centennial was called for a handball in the box and Whitman's Robert Tepper placed a penalty kick above the reach of goalkeeper Christian Lewis. It was the first goal top-ranked Centennial (3-0) had allowed this season.

Not many minutes went by before Whitman's David Ladd scored off an assist by Lewis Shapiro. Whitman (2-1-1) had scored two goals in 10 minutes.

Laycock and Stephenson hastily suited back up. The first team ran back onto the field and killed the rest of the clock.

West scored the game's first goal in the 10th minute on a direct kick that glanced off Josh Anderson in Whitman's wall and then found the net. West had been tripped to set up the kick.

Stephenson scored in the 42nd minute off an assist from West. Stephenson had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, pushed the ball by him and then accelerated and kicked it in.

In the 50th minute Stephenson was running to his left at high speed when Laycock's pass found him, and Stephenson booted the ball in the opposite direction for a goal.

Laycock, standing near the right post, banged in a loose ball to the opposite post for the fourth goal in the 51st minute. Centennial outshot Whitman 24-8.

"We thought about just playing for a tie, but we hoped that by playing five midfielders we could keep the ball away from West," said Whitman coach Dave Greene said. "Centennial is very skilled. They are the best team around."

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