The finishing ability of sophomore Mandy Paizs and a 12-minute stretch of the second half was all that separated No. 5 Centennial and No. 15 Glenelg in a girls soccer game yesterday.
After a scoreless first half, Paizs scored two goals early in the second to lift the Eagles to a hard-fought, 2-0 win over the host Gladiators (2-2-1) in both teams' county openers.
On the first goal about four minutes into the second half, Paizs gathered a rebound of a deflected shot at the top of the box and tucked a right-footed shot into the far corner of the net, eluding junior goalie Karyn Curley.
About 12 minutes later, Paizs ran on to a nifty through ball from freshman Brittany Kelley and took a couple of touches before depositing the ball into the back of the net.
"A lot of the breakaways I've had this year, I haven't finished," said Paizs, whose two goals came despite the Eagles (4-0-2) having only four second-half shots. "I think I kept my composure more this time, knowing I had to finish because this was a big game."
Centennial coach Mike Senisi was impressed with how his team reacted yesterday after it played in a tournament in Massapequa, N.Y., this past weekend, winning one and tying the tournament host.
However, an aggressive and game Glenelg squad, which closed down quickly on the Eagles' star midfielder, Hayley Siegel, every time she touched the ball, gave the Eagles all they could handle.
Gladiators senior Danielle Devereux was robbed by a diving Betsy Smith (10 saves) just three minutes in. With about five minutes left, senior Bryn Buckler took on a couple of defenders before firing a right-footed shot off the post.
"I have some pretty good soccer players, but one of the things that Centennial learned in its playoff run last year is how to win in the end. We haven't learned that yet," said Glenelg coach Mike Williams.
No. 14 Glenelg 2, No. 10 Centennial 1: Junior forward Megan Silas' goal with 14:30 to play broke a 1-1 tie and helped the host Gladiators (5-0, 2-0) to the win over the Eagles (4-2, 1-1).
Silas batted home sophomore Jennifer Cochran's pass in front for the game winner. Cochran also assisted on the game's first goal by senior Nicole German midway through the first half.
Centennial sophomore midfielder Molly Brickel had tied the game with 22 minutes left. In the game's last 10 minutes, the Eagles had two good scoring chances, but came up empty.