Mt. Hebron seized control of the Howard County race on Tuesday evening and exacted a little revenge against an old rival in the process.
The Vikings used a pair of second-half goals, answering an initial comeback by host Centennial, to earn a 3-1 victory that secures the team sole possession of first place in the league standings. After playing on its heels for large portions of the contest, Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said his squad finished with the kind of energy down the stretch he’s been looking for.
“Their response today in a lot of different respects was perfect. We hadn’t played since last Tuesday and, honestly, Centennial was really outplaying us early in the second half when they scored to tie it up,” he said. “But the team’s heads never went down and they responded exactly how a coach would want. It was a gut check game and we came through with a big win.”
Considering that it was Centennial that eliminated Mt. Hebron in the regional semifinals of last year’s playoffs in penalty kicks, the victory carried a little extra meaning for the Vikings.
“We were excited for this one because last year, losing in PKs in the fog, that was just heartbreaking for all the seniors,” said Jared Simowitz, who scored the final goal of the game to seal the victory with just over a minute left. “We just knew we had to come out stronger and better today if we wanted to come out on top, and we did.”
Centennial (4-3, 6-4) was coming off a loss against Hammond last Friday and played like a hungry team at the onset. The Eagles had the majority of the run of play and forced Mt. Hebron (5-1, 7-1) goalie Torey Jones to make six of his nine saves overall in the first half.
But it was ultimately the Vikings that struck first, as a long free kick by Jacob Parrott was mishandled by Centennial goalie Rohit Vepa (5 saves) in traffic and Johnny Linsenmeyer was there to clean it up for a 1-0 lead with 10:29 left in the opening half.
“It was huge to get that early goal to give us a little buffer because they were flying at us, their attack was great tonight,” said Johnny Linsenmeyer. “So yeah, it was good to get some breathing room. Even though it was kind of a cheap goal, we’ll take it.”
Centennial’s pressure did ultimately pay off early in the second half, as Nick Haskins finished his own rebound to tie the score at 1-1 with 28:47 left.
But before either team could blink, Trevor Namie gave the Vikings back the lead just a minute after Haskins’ score. Then, after Centennial threatened for the equalizer several times, Simowitz delivered the final nail in the coffin.
In a one-on-one situation with the goalie, Simowitz finished just inside the far post to create the final 3-1 margin.
“That was just great for me personally to get my first goal of the season and against Centennial too,” Simowitz said. “We were getting just hammered in the back down there and we just kept kicking it forward, trying to get out.
“We just kept doing it and finally got another (goal).”
Mt. Hebron is back in action on Thursday against Glenelg, which suffered a 2-1 overtime loss against Howard on Tuesday to slip into a tie for second place at 4-2 in league play. But Johnny Linsenmeyer says the team will still need to be at its very best.
“We’ve got to have a short memory because it was actually the same situation last year coming off a big win over Centennial, we kind of slept on Glenelg. We can’t do that this year because they’ve been hot,” he said.
Mt. Hebron 3, Centennial 1
Goals: MH – Linsenmeyer, Namie, Simowitz; C – Haskins.
Assist: MH – Parrott.
Saves: MH – Jones 9; C – Vepa 5.
Half: 1-0 MH.
Reservoir 2, Long Reach 1 OT
Brayden Heim provided the game-winning goal for the Gators on a penalty kick in the first overtime period, securing the team its third county victory.
Reservoir’s Kyree Akinkuowo opened the scoring in the first five minutes of the game to give the Gators the lead. But Long Reach’s Ayodele Fawole tied things up at 1-1 before the half and the score stayed that way through the end of regulation.
In the final seconds of the initial overtime period, Akinkuowo was fouled in the box to set up Heim’s game-winner.
Goals: Re – Akinkuowo, Heim; LR – Fawole.
Saves: Re – Foley 4; LR – Miranda 9.
Half: 1-1; Regulation: 1-1.
Hammond 4, Marriotts Ridge 2
Anderson Mejia Marroquin registered the hat trick to lead the way for the Golden Bears, which improved to 5-2 in county play.
Goals: Ha – Mejia-Marroquin 3, Reamer; MR – N/A.
Assists: Ha – Perez 2, Bradford, Mejia-Marroquin; MR – N/A.
Saves: Ha – Bradford 7.
Howard 2, Glenelg 1 OT
Caine McKinney scored in overtime off an assist from Andrei Shiller to lift the Lions to the key county victory. Henrik Struck provided the goal with just 54 seconds left in regulation for Howard (5-2 in county) that forced the extra period and Brendan Hartlove finished with four saves in goal.
Glenelg’s goal came from Alex Kvech.
Goals: Ho – McKinney, Struck; G – Kvech.
Assists: Ho - Shiller; G – Kato.
Saves: Ho – Hartlove 4; G – Rizk 4.
River Hill 4, Atholton 1
Gianni Gupta scored a pair of goals, while James Carter and Josh Ditman also found the net, to lift the Hawks to the victory.
Goals: RH – Gupta 2, Ditman, Carter; A – N/A.
Assists: RH – Fuller, Doten, Harris, Fuentes.
Saves: RH – Sherlock 3; A – N/A.
Wilde Lake 2, Oakland Mills 0 (For full story, CLICK HERE)