River Hill, Centennial draw 0-0 conclusion


River Hill boys soccer coach Bill Stara was calm. Centennial coach Jim Zehe was relieved.

Both seemed genuinely pleased with the efforts of their respective teams following a 0-0 no-overtime decision at Howard last night in the Through Charlie's Eyes Kicking Cancer Soccer Tournament, a charity event named for former Howard player Charlie Hlass, who died from cancer in 1999.

Maybe the tie was not upsetting because the game did not count either toward the county championship or the state playoff seeding.

Top-ranked River Hill (2-0-1), a 3-0 winner over Howard Friday night in the tournament opener, dominated offensively but was unable to finish numerous scoring chances from close range.

No. 10 Centennial (2-1-1), a 2-1 upset loser to Oakland Mills Friday and playing its third tough game in four days, chose to play a defensive shell against the Hawks - one that was rattled frequently but did not crack.

"We created opportunities close in - chances where we had them dead-to-rights," Stara said. "But we got overexcited. And their goalie [Andy Wilhelm] played well. Both teams played hard and well, but we lost our focus in front of the goal, and that was the only thing that disappointed me."

Wilhelm, a sophomore, made nine saves for Centennial, but it was the shots he didn't have to save that hurt River Hill the most.

Pat Nairin just missed on a header that sailed high with 6:40 left in the first half. Michael Stromberg's diving header off a long cross hit the left post in the second half and bounced out.

"We may be halfway decent, but we have to finish our chances," Stara said.

Zehe called up a JV player yesterday morning to help out his midfield defense, and Mohammed Khairul played almost half the game.

"Guys were stepping up at midfield, and it allowed me to pull Will Pippen and J.R. Test back to be marking backs for the last 15 minutes and that was huge," Zehe said. "I'm just glad we got through these three games in four days alive and with no injuries."

"I can't believe the heart we showed today," he added. "River Hill was able to rest its starters in the second half last night [Friday against Howard], but we couldn't [against Oakland Mills]."

The Eagles, who were allowed by Oakland Mills to control the ball in the midfield Friday, dropped its midfield back against River Hill.

"The next time we play them we probably won't do that because we match up decently. But we were just dog-tired," Zehe said.

The teams will play Oct. 11 at Centennial in a game that will count toward the county championship.

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