Fourth-ranked John Carroll entered the finals of yesterday's North Carroll Panthers Girls Soccer Tournament with the edge in speed and experience over No. 9 Centennial.
Despite a dominating performance, however, the Patriots needed Mairead Gordon's goal with 7:49 left to earn a 2-1 victory and their second straight tournament crown.
"It was just a matter of time," said John Carroll coach Gary Lynch. "We were going against the wind in the first half. We thought we could come in [at halftime] a goal behind as long as we had the wind and we could play with them, and I thought we played with them the whole game."
In the consolation, Katie Riley's three goals lifted North Carroll (2-2)to a 3-1 victory over No. 7 Glenelg (1-2), the Gladiators' second loss of the day.
John Carroll (5-1) outshot Centennial, 19-2, but continually came up empty on prime scoring chances -- until Gordon got a piece of Jamie Zimmerman's cross with her left thigh and the ball found the back of the net.
"I knew it would be too low to use my head, so I just thought that if I could run through the ball something would happen," said Gordon.
John Carroll was relentless on defense, giving the Eagles (4-1) precious few opportunities to mount an offense.
"They played well and just raised the bar pretty high," said Centennial coach Mike Senisi, whose team played six freshmen. "They had the pressure on us, they had the good touches. We need to meet that challenge."
Centennial took the early lead when Beth Foley scored on a perfectly angled direct kick from about 35 yards 5:30 into the game, sneaking the ball inches over the outstretched fingers of goalie Christine Dresher.
Despite moving against a sometimes stiff breeze, however, John Carroll tied the game 13:40 before halftime, when Kerry van Shura received a throw-in and scored on a high-angled shot from about 25 yards on the right side.
The Patriots nearly took the lead with 21 minutes left when Ashley Myers received a pass, wheeled around to her right and fired a hard shot that was met with a diving stop by goalie Betsy Smith.
Centennial never managed a shot in the second half.