The tension inside Angelo Fortunato Memorial Stadium amplified during a last-minute timeout, with one of the bitterest rivalries in Howard County at center-stage between host Centennial and Mt. Hebron on Friday night.
The Eagles were hanging onto the threads of a forceful first-half performance that mounted a three-goal lead late in the third quarter. But in that moment, the Vikings had drawn to within one and were on the brink of forcing a potential overtime, regaining possession out of the timeout.
Mt. Hebron rifled three more shots to the net in those waning seconds, but the Centennial defense hunkered down and goalie Jack Schlossberg smothered the third and final Vikings look before flipping it to a nearby teammate to launch down field as the clock hit zero.
After the stressful sequence subsided, the Centennial bench stormed the field in Schlossberg’s direction, celebrating the 10-9 win over rival Mt. Hebron, its ninth win in a row.
“We knew they were going to write up a play, something to get their shooters to take as many shots as they can at the cage. So I was just preparing myself, that it’s coming,” said Schlossberg, who made 13 saves. “I was just bracing myself. Luckily the first and second missed. But the third one, I don’t know where it would’ve ended up, but I got it, and realized there was 15 seconds left, and that was the end.”
Seemingly nothing came easy for red-hot Centennial (7-1 county, 10-2 overall), as it had to scrap for every inch against a youthful, battled-tested Mt. Hebron (2-3, 4-8) team that rallied from multi-goal deficits all night.
“Anytime we play [Mt.] Hebron, it’s an absolute battle,” Centennial coach Nick Kellinger said. “Throw the records out the window.”
Centennial set the table in the opening four minutes of regulation, converting on their first three shot attempts to build a 3-1 lead behind a pair of goals from Peter Krawcyk and another from Thomas Thurmond. Mt. Hebron wiped the deficit away with back-to-back goals from freshman Garrett Snyder, before Thurmond and Jeremy Wilson (four goals, four assists) put Centennial back on top, 5-3.
Snyder’s five-hole rocket and Nick Nordhausen’s one-timer tied things at 5 before Centennial concluded the first half on a three-goal run to take an 8-5 lead into halftime.
Centennial maintained a three-goal lead midway through the third period before Mt. Hebron whittled away. Joey Schwartz’s goal with under three minutes to go in the third quarter and Jamison Hulbert’s man-down strike with less than eight minutes to play in regulation made it a one-goal deficit.
But Centennial rode the hot hand in crunch-time and Wilson canned the deciding goal using his go-to split-dodge maneuver with 2:45 to play out of a timeout that gave the Eagles a 10-8 lead. Nordhausen netted an under-hand goal to make it 10-9 with 1:23 to play, but Mt. Hebron couldn’t materialize any more offense after that.
“It was definitely big,” said Wilson, enjoying his first win over Mt. Hebron in his lacrosse career. “We have a lot of guys on this team who have never beaten [Mt.] Hebron in lacrosse. Wanted to show some freshman how this rivalry is. How it should be, how we can stick it to them when we have to.”
Krawcyk finished with three goals, and Charlie Hockersmith added a goal for the Eagles.
Centennial will now face two stiff tests in Howard and River Hill before heading into postseason play.
“They’ve bought into what we’re trying to sell,” Kellinger said. “We have some tough games coming up, and we need to keep the momentum rolling.”
Mt. Hebron, meanwhile, continues to endure growing pains, dropping its fifth in a row. Snyder finished with three goals, and Nordhausen paced the Vikings with four goals. Nolan Aberdeen recorded nine saves for Mt. Hebron, which never led.
“We play well in spurts and then have two or three-minute lulls [that] we’ve had all year with a lot mental errors, and it turns into two or three-goal runs for other teams,” Mt. Hebron coach Mike McCarthy said. “Today, first half defensively, we played really poorly. … Second half, we turned it on. You have to play a complete game, and we just didn’t.”
It was also Mt. Hebron’s fourth-straight loss by three goals or less, justifying that the Vikings are a play or two away from being right there.
“At moments, we’re very close,” McCarthy said. “But right now, it’s consistency. The kids play their heart out, that’s not a question. … We have two weeks to figure it out. We are close. But winning is a habit, one of my favorite quotes from Vince Lombardi. And right now our habit is playing close games. We are close to making that next step, and I think we will.”
Centennial (7-2 county, 10-2 overall) — 10, Mt. Hebron (2-3, 4-8) — 9
Goals: C — Jeremy Wilson 4, Peter Krawczyk 3, Thomas Thurmond 2, Charlie Hockersmith; MH — Nick Nordhausen 4, Garrett Snyder 3, Joey Schwartz, Jamison Hulbert
Assists: C — Wilson 4; MH — Joey Schwartz, Jake Edmondson
Saves: C — Jack Schlossberg 13, MH — Nolan Aberdeen 9, Cody Stockenberg 2
Halftime: 8-5, Centennial