It was an extra special senior night Friday for the Mt. Hebron boys soccer team.
Up against rival Centennial with control of the top seed in the upcoming 3A East region Section I playoffs on the line, the Vikings got goals from two of their senior captains en route to a 2-0 victory.
“Obviously there were a lot of emotions tonight. Senior night, playing against a Centennial team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year and battling for seeding in this year’s playoffs, it’s a lot to manage,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike Linsenmeyer said. “But I thought the kids did job of controlling those emotions and not playing totally out of control. That’s a good Centennial team that we just beat.”
Sebastian Tobar kicked off the scoring in the seventh minute and then Vince Broccolino added an insurance tally late in the second half, providing more than enough offense for a Mt. Hebron team that improved its record to 7-2 county play and 9-2-1 overall.
“Coach emphasized that we’re still in the running for first seed … but we had to win the two games this week,” said Broccolino, who had a goal and an assist in a win over Reservoir on Oct. 8. “Now [that we have], we’re in a good case where the playoffs go through us.”
Centennial, which was coming off a shutout win over Howard earlier in the week, dropped to 5-4 in county and 7-4 overall. Eagles’ coach Justin Thomas said, however, that he was pleased overall with his team’s play.
A couple breakdowns defensively and an inability to finish offensively was simply too much to overcome.
“I thought we played well and dominated possession for long stretches, but coming in we talked a lot about set pieces and corners and how Mt. Hebron is working toward that,” Thomas said. “They got two corners in a row there early on and they were able to capitalize on a second ball bouncing around. We just never were able to fully get the momentum back after that, even though I thought we did a lot of good things.”
That first score came off a corner kick from the left corner that was initially headed by Broccolino off a Centennial defender into the crossbar. The ball then ricocheted down in front of the goal to where Tobar was waiting to knock it into the net.
With 33:37 left in the opening half, it was 1-0 Mt. Hebron.
The score stayed that way through halftime and the majority of the second half. There were chances for both sides, but Mt. Hebron goalie Justin Cargiulo (4 saves) and Centennial goalie Alexander Cook (5 saves) each did their part to keep the game tight.
It wasn’t until there was 15:16 left in regulation that Mt. Hebron got its insurance tally. Tobar was fouled in the box to set up Broccolino for a penalty kick that he finished into the left side of the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles nearly answered on their very next possession but a ball headed toward goal was saved just in front of the end line by Daniel Tobar to preserve the clean sheet.
Looking ahead, Mt. Hebron has games against Glenelg and Wilde Lake left. A win or tie in either contest would secure the top seed in the section.
“County, region and states was our goal, and while county kind of slipped away, region and states is still very much there,” Broccolino said. “Winning these two games was huge and we’ve got another big week next week. If we keep playing like we did this week, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Mt. Hebron (7-2 county, 9-2-1) — 2, Centennial (5-4, 7-4) — 0
Goals: MH – Sebastian Tobar, Vince Broccolino.
Assists: MH – Broccolino.
Saves: MH – Justin Cargiulo 4, Jack Schied 1; C – Alexander Cook 5.
Half: 1-0 MH.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports