In the neighborhood brawl, it wasn’t the biggest, the strongest and the fastest that won the night. It was the freshman.
Freshman midfielder Austen Veach put his head to a throw-in by senior Ryan Smith with 15 minutes remaining to give No. 11 Liberty (7-2-1 overall, 4-2 Carroll County) a 4-3 victory over Century (9-2, 5-1) in a fiercely contested rivalry game on Tuesday.
“When I knew the ball was coming [into the box], I just felt it,” said Veach. “Ryan had a great throw, I just jumped, and it went right off my head into the goal.”
“He’s really good in the air,” Liberty coach David Abarbanel said of Veach. “We called him up from the junior varsity because of injuries and other factors about two and a half weeks ago, and he’s already shown he belongs.”
The Knights, down two goals after Veach’s goal, mounted a furious rally to try and catch up. They got one back on a Collin Williams goal with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left but could get no closer.
“It was a pretty wild game,” said Abarbanel. “It’s always like this when we play them. We beat a really well-coached Century team that has already won the county championship, and several of our players stepped up big tonight.”
The Lions opened the scoring 9:36 in when an errant clearance bounced to Liberty’s Jordan Devincent. Devincent deposited the ball into the upper right part of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Liberty added to the lead just under eight minutes later when Century keeper Vijay Jetton made a save but left a rebound. Liberty’s Sam Allen made the best of his good fortune, increasing the lead to 2-0 with 22:04 left in the half.
Century halved the lead six minutes later when the Knight’s Tyler Powell settled a ball about 35 yards from goal and fired a laser that eluded goalkeeper Hutton Steier with 16:20 remaining in the first half.
The Knights tied the game a little over five minutes later on a throw-in, as Colin Williams’ throw found the head of the Knights’ Nathan Brooks. He beat Steier to his left to knot the score at 2-2 with 10:57 left in the half.
Liberty retook the lead with 5:06 left. The Lions worked the ball to the left side of the Century net, and forward Jack Brumbalow spotted a cutting Sam Kashima. His pass fell right on Kashima’s feet about 10 yards out, and he fired the ball into the lower-left corner of the net for a 3-2 halftime lead.
The Lions doubled the lead with 15:53 left in the game as Smith’s throw-in found Veach. He put the ball in the upper-left corner to beat a diving Jetton for a 4-2 lead.
Century scored late to get one back but never got the other.
Kashima, a senior, admitted that not winning the county title was a bit of a disappointment for the Lions. The Knights had already done that before the game kicked off. Still, he said, his focus is on the future.
“We have bigger things still ahead of us,” said Kashima, a senior. “We are both 2A schools, so I have a feeling we might be seeing them again in the playoffs.”
No. 11 Liberty 4, Century 3
Goals: C — Powell, Brook, Williams; L — Devincent, Allen, Kashima, Veach
Assists: C — Williams, McKenna; L — Allen, Brumbalow, Smith
Saves: C — Jetton 9; L — Steier 12
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Half: Liberty, 3-2