Current season looks to be a struggle for the boys soccer team at Centennial

September 20, 1992|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

Centennial's boys soccer team cruised to a Class 3A state title last year, posting a 14-0-2 record and shutting out seven opponents.

This season, however, Centennial will be in a struggle for a playoff spot and division title with Oakland Mills and several other teams in the county. The Eagles' season-opener already proved to be a tussle.

"The pressure comes from myself and the tradition of Centennial soccer," said Centennial coach Bill Stara, whose team returns 15 lettermen and only three of 11 starters from a year ago. "At Centennial, you don't lose soccer games and have bad seasons. That's the pressure the kids have."

In their opener, the Eagles blanked visiting Walt Whitman High of Montgomery County last Thursday, recording a 1-0 sudden-death victory.

Walt Whitman went 9-6 last year and lost in the second round of the state Class 3A playoffs.

Goaltending for the Eagles might be a potential trouble spot this year because of a knee injury to first-team All-County goalie Brock Yetso, a sophomore. But Dan Christine proved in his first varsity start that he can handle the position. The junior went untested in the first half, making two easy saves and barely breaking a sweat.

In the second half, Christine made several key stops, finishing with nine saves. Stara is unsure if Yetso will play this season.

"[Christine] made a few mistakes," Stara said. "For his first varsity game, he did OK. He started against a top-notch opponent and survived."

Senior fullback Rehan Gill scored the lone goal at the one-minute, 30-second mark of overtime. Morgan Kershner registered the assist.

Two Vikings were ejected from the contest -- Coach Sam DeBone for arguing about a slide tackle and player Judah Cooks. This might have aided Centennial as the Vikings played a man down for part of the second half.

"[The two ejections] had an effect on the game," Stara said. "They weren't as dangerous, though, I don't think that was the turning point of the game."

Centennial appeared sluggish for most of the game, failing to score on more than a half-dozen opportunities in both halfs. Morgan Kershner missed a penalty kick early in the first period while the Eagles didn't take advantage of two breakaways and several direct shots on goal in the second half.

"It's hard to play smooth in the first game of the season," Stara said. "After we missed the penalty kick and a few of the easy ones, we felt a little fatigued. Some of the missed opportunities got the kids frustrated.

"In the first game there are always rough edges. I thought we would get two goals on them," Stara said. "In Howard County, you get a goal or two and the game is over. The game should have been over and done with."

Centennial faces Gonzaga, another strong squad from Washington, at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The chase for a state and division title will not be as easy as last year, said Stara. The 12th-year coach is not predicting another state title, nor another undefeated season. He said his squad is just focusing on a return to the state playoffs.

"We never try for an undefeated season," Stara said. "It's unrealistic. We are worried about how many points it will take us to get into the state playoffs. We are trying to finish in the top half of the county and make the playoffs.

"We'll have to avoid injuries and have some lady luck to repeat as state champs. Oakland Mills is the best team on paper to win in the county. No one should be able to match up with them. And everybody is so close for the second, third and fourth spots. We will have to work this season because my team has some flaws."

Centennial, a school with the best mark in the county the last three years at 36-4-4 is ranked No. 1 by The Baltimore Sun, and 14th nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

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