Centennial's Emily Rothschild knocked away the potential tying score with 18 seconds remaining and the Eagles held on for a 2-1 victory yesterday over visiting Howard in a class 3A North semifinal.
On the play, Eagles goalie Becca Armiger moved up to defend a shot, but the ball slipped past her and rolled toward the open goal. That's when Rothschild, a junior left halfback and the only Centennial player who could make the save, delivered.
"I was the last one because everybody else had moved up," said Rothschild. "The ball was headed straight for the goal. I thought I better get it out or it was going to be overtime. I went full force and tried to hit it as hard as I could to get it out."
Rothschild sent the ball toward the corner and time ran out for the Lions (7-6-1).
Centennial (8-4-2) will meet North Carroll, a 1-0 winner yesterday over Thomas Johnson, tomorrow in the North regional final. The state semifinals and final are next week.
Howard and Centennial had played to a scoreless tie eight days ago in the regular-season finale for both teams. Both teams had chances to score in yesterday's first half, but neither Armiger or Howard goalie Erika Rhodeside budged. Rhodeside stopped a penalty stroke taken by Allison Altscher with 15:04 left in the half.
Altscher, a senior forward who played a strong game, put Centennial ahead 1-0 three minutes into the second half. Roughly two minutes later, with 25:28 left to play, Altscher sent a crossing pass to Connie Garrant who hit it hard into an open net for a 2-0 advantage.
"My girl left me and I was wide open," Garrant said. "We've been practicing that exact play and it worked just like it was supposed to."
Howard senior forward Erica Hensley, who put a lot of pressure on the Eagles' defense throughout the game, scored with 22:17 left, but the Lions could come no closer.
"We came up big when we needed to," said Centennial coach Gail Purcell. "I think we had a little more luck then Howard."
* Glenelg 2, Middletown 1: Sheri Scoville scored twice to power visiting Glenelg (6-8) past Middletown in a Class 2A West semifinal. Glenelg faces the Rockville/Bethesda-Chevy Chase winner tomorrow.
* Hammond 1, Oakland Mills 0 (OT): In a 2A South semifinal, Jenny Pollack broke up a scoreless tie 6:50 into overtime as Hammond (4-8-1) beat Oakland Mills (3-6-2).
* Wilde Lake 2, Southern-AA 1: Heather Pietrzyk and Katie Troutman each scored as host Wilde Lake (2-11-1) edged Southern (3-10) in Class 2A South semifinal action.
Wilde Lake faces host Hammond tomorrow at 3:15.