River Hill All-Metro forward Alex Hamer did her part, winning the right side before sending a perfect cross to the middle with less than three minutes left at Centennial.
She knew exactly who would be there to handle the rest.
It was junior midfielder Jessica Hopkins who made the perfect run before emphatically heading home the difference as the No. 2 Hawks were able to withstand a considerable challenge to claim a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Eagles in Howard County.
River Hill improved to 8-2 and 7-0 in league play, while the Eagles fell to 5-4-1 and 4-3.
The game was played on even terms most of the way with the Eagles taking a 1-0 lead early in the second half before Hamer and Hopkins dominated the final minutes to rally the Hawks.
Pressing for the equalizer, Hamer found the lower left corner from 20 yards away following a long throw in from Hopkins to tie the game at 1-1 with 11:36 to play.
The two weren’t through, connecting impressively for the game-winner with 2:35 left.
“I trust Jessie more than anyone to get at the end of those [crosses],” Hamer said. “I saw that I could win the line and I knew Jessie would be there and she was. So I just tried to give her a good ball and she finished in the most beautiful way possible.”
Said Hopkins: “I think Alex and I made direct eye contact right before the cross was sent in and I was like ‘This is going in, I promise.’ It’s just a good feeling knowing a perfect ball is coming, you’re tied 1-1 with five minutes left and you’ve got to put it in."
The young Eagles, who only have three seniors, have shown flashes of strong play throughout the season and, despite the setback on Wednesday, can take plenty of positives from their effort.
They created scoring chances throughout and were able to break through three minutes into the second half to claim a 1-0 lead.
Junior forward Reese Western faked out a defender on the left side to get some time to play a ball to the middle. Sophomore Jasmine McCree beat a defender to the ball to nudge it to senior Anna Mitchell, who had an easy finish from six yards away.
In protecting the 1-0 lead midway through the second half, Centennial goalie Allie Durkee made a brilliant save on Hamer’s point-blank shot from eight yards away.
Centennial coach Steve Baxter was quick to credit Hamer’s play in the final minutes, but is pleased with the direction his Eagles are headed.
“We showed we could play with them… we had our chances and we actually controlled a lot of play so it was an even game," he said. "I have a lot of young players that are playing a lot of minutes."
River Hill 2, Centennial 1
Goals: RH – Hamer, Hopkins; C – Mitchell.
Assists: RH – Hopkins, Hamer; C- McCree.
Saves: RH – Caine 5; C – Durkee 3.
Howard 2, Reservoir 1
The Lions earned their second victory this week, holding on for a one-goal victory over the Gators.
All three goals in the game were scored in the first five minutes. Howard scored first in the game’s second minute, with Grace Regal recording her third goal of the season off a feed from Nia Elbeck. Less than a minute later, the two traded roles as Regal fed Elbeck for her 10th goal of the season.
Reservoir answered back to pull within one in the fifth minute, as Julianne Knoblee converted a feed from Leah Simmons.
No one scored, though, the rest of the way. Reservoir goalies Janie Romer and Abby Gillum held things down on their end, while Howard goalie Jazmin McConnell matched their effort in her first start of the season.
Howard improved to 5-2 in county play and 5-3 overall.
Glenelg Country 7, St. Tim's 0
Goals: GC - Moore 2, Hursey, Gamble, Steeley, Netus, DeLeonibus.
Assists: GC - Gamble, Netus, Moore.
Saves: GC - Hursey 3, Gamble 1.