Lions' goalie Krista Fulton made 10 second-half saves, and Howard nipped previously unbeaten Centennial in girls soccer Friday night, 1-0.
Forward Linda Schneider kicked in the winning goal just 1 minute 30 seconds into the game.
The goal was a rebound effort following a shot by Kristi Greer in the middle of the field.
Greer's ball bounced off Centennial goalie Jenny Kling as she came out to field it at about the 10-yard line. Kling fell to the ground and lost the ball.
That's when Schneider fielded the loose ball and booted it in. It was Schneider's ninth goal of the year.
Centennial (6-1 overall, 2-1 league) nearly scored in the opening minute, but a shot by Vicki Brunt veered wide of the far post.
Howard (7-1, 2-1) controlled the ball offensively for much of the first half, but could not score again thanks to a solid Centennial back line led by sweeper Becky Joeckel and fullbacks Meghan Hughes, Jaime Fountaine and Corina Riismandel.
Howard's defensive back line consisted of sweeper Camille Powell, Michelle Bagrosky, Susan Olson and Kellie Weeks.
A substantial rain plagued both teams for the final 12 minutes, but nothing upset Fulton's concentration in a game crucial for Howard's playoff hopes.
Centennial blasted shot after shot at the Howard goal in the final 20 minutes.
Fulton made five saves in one four-minute period, including three exceptional ones.
With about 17 minutes to play, Powell was injured for Howard and left the game with a bruised leg.
Greer switched from center-halfback to sweeper, replacing Powell, as the rain started falling hard.
"Kristi had only played a couple of minutes at sweeper, but she decided she could do it. It was either going to be her or Michelle Bagrosky," Howard coach Jane Sherman said.
Greer, who had played extremely well at center-halfback, proved effective at sweeper in the pouring rain.
And Fulton continued to make saves, one in in the 65th minute and another in the 67th.
Brunt had a shot in close in the 73rd minute for Centennial but missed.
Fulton made saves in the 73rd, 75th and 78th minutes.
Centennial's Mary Ellen Carullo had a shot inside the 10-yard line with 10 seconds left to play, but it went wide right.
"We had our chances and have no excuses," Centennial coach Ray Mayrovitz said. "It was a pretty even game. The rain didn't hurt us any more than it did them."
Mayrovitz did wonder about one play that the officials let go late in the second half, when Brunt went down in the penalty box with two Howard players near her. No penalty was called. Mayrovitz thought one could have been.
"They got lucky on that one call," Mayrovitz said. "We've got our backs to the wall now with Hammond this Tuesday and Oakland Mills Friday."
Howard, Hammond and Centennial each have one league loss now, with Oakland Mills still unbeaten in the league.
"I feel good," Sherman said. "Tonight's win will be a big factor to get us into the playoffs. We could lose one more game and still make them."