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No. 5 Century comes back for 3-2 win over No. 14 Liberty in girls soccer

Century's Hannah Warther, center, plays the ball up the field in front of Liberty defenders.
Century's Hannah Warther, center, plays the ball up the field in front of Liberty defenders. (Dave Munch, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Keri Mathias soaked up two celebrations with her Century girls soccer teammates, the last of which she won't soon forget.

Mathias scored a pair of late goals in the host Knights' come-from-behind 3-2 victory over rival Liberty in Tuesday's Class 2A West Section 2 semifinal — the first tied the game with about 10 seconds to play in regulation, the second won it early in overtime.

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No. 14 Liberty led 2-0 with four minutes to play and seemed to be about to end No. 5 Century's Class 2A state championship defense. But the Knights (12-2-1) got a goal from Hannah Warther to get their offense going, and Mathias tied it in the final seconds after taking a pass from Megan Callan and finding room in the center of the midfield to rip a 25-yard shot into the upper left-hand corner of the net.

Mathias got her share of hugs, then ended the game with seven minutes, 48 seconds to go in the first overtime when she stayed with her initial point-blank shot, stopped in dazzling fashion by Lions goalie Cassie Arndt, and banged in the game-winner.

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"We did not come out how we thought we would have," said Mathias, a junior midfielder. "When Hannah scored that goal, it just gave us so much momentum. And we were like, 'This is not over. We do not want it to be over.' ... Since we were going into overtime, we knew were not going to lose then."

Mathias admitted she had some doubt as the minutes ticked away and the Lions (10-4) held their advantage. Century desperately tried to use its speed along the front line to create some scoring chances. It wasn't until Warther got loose along the far sideline and streaked in for the first goal that the Knights had hope.

"Our team is a team that battles," said Century coach Sara Figuly. "We were down 2-0 but we were going to battle until the end. Hannah put in that goal and it changed the momentum of that game. And then Keri came through."

Liberty was the aggressor in the first half and grabbed an early lead.

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Sydney Hartman won a battle against her defender along the near sideline and made some room before finding Hayley Garrick down the seam in the midfield. Garrick took the feed and did the rest with a direct shot from about 10 yards out, and the Lions led 1-0 with 26:30 to play.

Liberty mounted another offensive charge with about 12:30 remaining in the half, and took advantage when Century keeper Cari Rusk came off the line and tried to prevent the rush. The ball got behind her and Pisarra was there to boot in another goal.

Lions coach Callie Jo Harrison was pleased with her team's start, but said she was wary of the score despite Liberty's defense, anchored by senior Abbey Butler, doing its best to thwart the home team.

"It's harder, I think, to defend the lead, especially against a team like Century," Harrison said. "I hate a 2-0 lead. It's the worst lead you can have. ... One goal and they're back in.

"It was a hard-fought game on both sides. I think that we held our own. It was very apparent there were several girls on our team ready to put their bodies in front of the shots."

Century advances to face South Carroll in the sectional final Friday, and Mathias said she hopes Tuesday's late drama means good vibes the rest of the way.

"Once Hannah scored were like, 'Yes, we've got this. We're not going to give it up now,'" Mathias said. "And then all of it just clicked."

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