Top-ranked Centennial won its 22nd straight game yesterday with greater than expected ease.
The Eagles (8-0 overall, 3-0 league) looked forward to some stiff competition from No. 8 Hammond, which allowed only six goals in its first seven games. Instead, the injury-riddled Bears fell easily, 4-0.
Hammond (4-4-2, 1-1-1) played without its top offensive player, Jabari Richardson, and without its top defensive player, sweeper Tom Dispenza. Both suffered injuries during Monday's scoreless tie with Bel Air.
"Hammond ran into an unlucky injury situation against Bel Air and that made things difficult for them," Centennial coach Bill Stara said. "But we played well."
As well as Centennial passed the ball during the first half, however, it still needed two corner kicks to produce a 2-0 halftime lead.
Matt Stephenson scored his fifth goal of the season, heading in a corner kick from Cory Piette (four goals, four assists) at the near post in the 10th minute.
Marcus Lages headed in a corner kick from Brian West to the far post in the 25th minute. Both corners were from the left side.
"Take away those and the first half was even," Hammond coach Rich Corkran said. "Dispenza is one of our best guys at clearing corner kicks, but we didn't want to take a chance on playing him today."
Centennial's offense dominated and outshot Hammond that half, Centennial, ranked No. 10 in the country by USA Today, scored two more goals and outshot Hammond, 19-1, in the second half. For the game, Centennial took 10 corner kicks to none for Hammond and outshot the Bears, 34-2.
Midfielder Matt Laycock (six goals, two assists) took a cross from Matt Stephenson and volleyed it to the far post where it deflected in off Hammond's Adam Eastridge for Centennial's third goal.
And West volleyed a shot inside the far post for Centennial's fourth goal.
Three outstanding saves by Hammond goalkeeper Dave Tollick (16 saves), and a few misses on easy chances by Centennial contributed to holding down the score. West hit the post once and the bar once.
The goal and an assist in yesterday's game brought West's team-leading scoring numbers to eight goals and nine assists.
He has achieved those numbers despite passing up numerous scoring opportunities in an effort to set up other players.
"I like to get other people involved," he said. "If I give it up it will inspire others to keep making their runs. Everyone likes to score.
"We're starting to come together into a nice team and we have the skill to knock it around this season."