Centennial dominated the first 20 minutes against Mt. Hebron on Thursday and was rewarded with a goal. The Vikings, meanwhile, controlled the first 20 minutes of the second half, and like the Eagles, was rewarded with a tally.
There were lulls throughout but as the intensity picked up down the stretch and continued into overtime, Centennial seemed destined to score and send the home crowd happy. The first chance in the first 10-minute extra session was a near miss, as was the second, the third and the fourth. Coach Justin Thomas spent the majority of that time with his hands on his head, unable to understand how the ball never made its way into the goal.
“Close to a heart attack,” he described it.
The quality chances continued into the early stages of the second overtime for the Eagles, but as time wound down and the final whistle blew, they were forced to settle for a 1-1 tie that neither team wanted.
“We got a lot of chances,” said Thomas. “They did everything they were asked to do, it’s just that the final ball didn’t go in for us today. ... I think we did very well. We did what we wanted.”
Vikings coach Mike Linsenmeyer said his team, which entered the rivalry game having lost two of its last three games and is without a number of starters because of injury, was disappointed with the result even though “it probably deserved to be a tie.”
“I felt like we couldn’t have played any harder,” he said. “They played really well ... They did play better in overtime, but in the second overtime we had a couple really good chances.”
Centennial (6-2-1, 7-3-1) broke through barely a minute after a pair of chances were stopped by Vikings goalie Sohraab Sidhu and cleared off the line on the ensuing corner kick. Senior midfielder Alex Keppler headed in a perfectly placed cross by Hamzah Elhabashy in the 14th minute for his 17th goal of the season.
“Keppler just has a knack at getting in the right position,” Thomas said. “He was in the right place at the right time and he can bury that shot. It’s just getting him in those positions to be able to do that.”
Mt. Hebron had a free-kick goal wiped off the board in the 39th minute because of a collision with Eagles goalie Rohit Vepa but it carried the momentum into the second half. Another free kick, this one sent in by junior Ethan Bishop, found Vince Broccolino’s head on the far post and tied the game at 1 in the 46th minute.
Another Vikings goal from Colton Wartman was taken back less than two minutes later after it was deemed offside and the game settled down after that, though the physicality picked up.
The Eagles, who had won three of their last four games, dominated the first overtime but nothing found the back of the net. A corner kick was headed just wide left, one shot rang off the field goal crossbar and another sailed wide right.
“It’s feast or famine with these guys,” Thomas said. “They’ll pop seven on some teams and then some other teams it’s one or two, we just have to keep working and plugging away. We’ve still got room for improvement.”