Mount Hebron is back.
After a disheartening 1-0 loss Oct. 1 at Long Reach, the 13th-ranked Vikings came back with a 2-1 victory Tuesday over 12th-ranked Hammond and a 1-0 victory Friday over 10th-ranked Centennial.
"This has been a good week for us," said Mount Hebron coach Jonathan Davis after his team's shutout win over the Eagles.
Julie Napolitano scored the only goal two minutes into the game. As Centennial's defense moved up on an offside trap, Annie Collins sent the ball beyond the Eagles' defense. Napolitano chested the ball down and beat goalie Erica Niemann, who had come out to challenge.
"It was a questionable offside and it wasn't called, and she put it away" said Centennial coach Mike Senisi.
Niemann played a strong game -- "She was unbelievable," said Davis -- and so did her teammates.
"I was very impressed by our performance," said Senisi, whose team lost sweeper Carolyn Schmid to a first-half ankle injury. "I think we played really well. We had opportunities."
Helping the Mount Hebron defense was Katie Elliott, last year's leading scorer in the county. Since the loss to Long Reach, Elliott has moved to sweeper and the Vikings have played better.
"It takes away from our offense, but defense was our weakness and now it's more balanced," said Napolitano.
Said Davis: "The team seems to relax when she's back there, and that helps us. We need to be relaxed to be successful."
And Elliott just likes the fact that the team is winning again. "I don't mind [playing defense]. I just want to win," she said.
Napolitano said she can see a positive change in the Vikings' attitude.
"We've been practicing a lot harder, taking things more seriously and just playing more as a team," Napolitano said.
Added Davis: "We're playing with more confidence, enthusiasm and passion."
Unbeaten and top-ranked River Hill, which is No. 23 in the NSCAA/Addidas Girls High School National rankings, leads the county with a 4-0 record. Mount Hebron, Centennial and Glenelg are tied at 3-1, and Hammond is 2-2.
Howard senior Amy Rappaport needed 26 stitches to close a cut above her left eye as a result of a collision in Thursday's game against Oakland Mills. Rappaport and an Oakland Mills player went up to head the ball, and their foreheads collided.