River Hill swallows losing in double dose; Unbeaten soccer teams tumble to Centennial


River Hill's top-ranked boys and girls soccer teams went down to defeat yesterday for the first time this season.

The boys team, a two-time Class 2A state champion and owner of an 18-game winning streak, was beaten at Centennial, 2-1, on Ryan Myers' goal five minutes into overtime.

At River Hill, Eagles sophomore Samantha Test scored on a breakaway with 13 minutes left, and goalie Erica Niemann and the Centennial defense made it hold up for the 1-0 victory.

River Hill boys coach Bill Stara, who produced seven state champions in his 14-year career at Centennial before going to the Clarksville school, was ejected for the first time in his career with 16 minutes left and his team ahead.

"I'm winning the game, and I get thrown out," said Stara, a two-time Sun All-Metro Coach of the Year. "Why would I want to get thrown out?

The referee "put the whistle in my hand and said if I could do a better job I could ref," Stara said. "I tossed the whistle to the other official and said, 'Here, he doesn't want to ref,' and that's when he sent me out."

River Hill's boys team (9-1, 6-1 league), ranked No. 9 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, took the lead with 19 minutes left when Brent Tyson scored off an assist from Adom Crew.

No. 15 Centennial (6-4-1, 4-1-1) tied the score with six minutes remaining when Phil Kiracofe's cross was flicked in by Randy Van Allen. In overtime, Phil Kiracofe sent a long ball toward the right side of the box, where Myers ran onto it. He one-timed it over the head of charging goalie Mike DiBella, and the ball came down right in front of the goal line, bouncing under the crossbar and into the net.

"I'm extremely proud of the team," said Centennial first-year coach Jim Zehe. "They absolutely never gavee up."

Zehe said Van Allen's defensive effort against Crew, the Hawks' most dangerous player, was a big factor in the outcome.

"Coming in, we knew if we could take him out of the mix, we matched up well with the rest of the team. Van Allen came up big for us."

Zehe said creating chances and playing the Hawks evenly in the first half gave the Eagles a big lift going into the second half.

Said Stara: "Their kids played well, and we came out a little flat. It was a combination of those two things, and we got hung."

River Hill's girls team (10-1, 5-1), ranked 23rd by the NSCAA, had never trailed this season. But that changed when Test, a 5-foot-2 sophomore, raced 40 yards to score.

The Hawks like to use sweeper Natalie Klisas to generate offense, and it is not unusual for her to cross midfield. Klisas dribbled past midfield, but the Hawks lost possession when defender AnnEi Sweeney sent the ball up the middle. Test, who was just shy of midfield, caught up to the ball 40 yards from goal, and it became a foot race between her and defender Jessica Goertler.

Goertler forced her slightly to the right, but Test was able to maintain control as they approached goalie Jen Wright.

"When the goalie came out, I just passed it behind her," said Test of the ball she put into the right corner. "It was more finesse than power."

River Hill outplayed No. 12 Centennial (8-3, 5-1) in the first half, but the fact that the game was scoreless was a big boost for the Eagles.

"They started believing in themselves," said Centennial coach Mike Senisi, whose team upset River Hill last year in the Class 2A regional playoffs on its was to the state title. "We knew we had a chance, and we talked desire and how much this game meant to them. That's what it came down to."

The Eagles were more aggressive in the second half and controlled most of the play.

"They took us out of our passing game," said River Hill coach Joan Kelso Smedley, whose team narrowly missed tying the score in the final minutes. "They beat us to the ball and cut off our passes. They played well."

Added Senisi: "I think we turned a lot of heads today."

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