Imagine a relaxed cat playing with a frantic mouse and you have a pretty good picture of how top-ranked Centennial (11-0-2) played with visiting Thomas Johnson's boys soccer team yesterday.
Thomas Johnson (7-5-1), trying to use emotion to play above its ability, succeeded in at least keeping the final score a respectable 4-2.
But one of the Patriots' goals was scored off Centennial's second team with seven minutes left in the game, and the other came off a routine direct kick that slipped through Eagles goalkeeper Dan Christine's hands in the 22nd minute when Centennial was ahead 3-0.
So, after the Class 3A, Region III boys soccer semifinal game ended, and the Eagles had advanced to tomorrow's regional final while keeping alive their 29-game unbeaten streak, fourth seed Thomas Johnson held no illusions that it had come anywhere near a victory.
When you go against a team as powerful as Centennial, you have to be realistic," Thomas Johnson coach Kevin McMullen said. The two things we wanted to accomplish were to play hard and not be intimidated."
Thomas Johnson did play hard, but Centennial attacked repeatedly from the wings with eight corner kicks and 15 dangerous throw-ins.
Centennial executes well on restarts, and you can't let them score off those," McMullen said.
Warren Grace put Centennial ahead 1-0 in the 10th minute on a header off an unsettled situation in front of the goal after Allen Alejandro's throw-in. For Grace, a fullback, it was his first goal of the season.
Freshman striker Brian West made it 2-0. He intercepted a pass as Thomas Johnson attempted to push out from its goal. West beat three defenders and the goalkeeper to score from 10 yards out. It was his seventh goal.
Alejandro, a fullback called "Neanderthal Man" by teammates, put Centennial ahead 3-0 in the 20th minute when he booted in a loose ball from 15 yards out.
Thomas Johnson, which tried to attack from the wings after kicking long over Centennial's midfield, created few dangerous situations.