Whichever team wins, recent performances indicate the score of the Centennial-Whitman Class 3A boys state soccer championship game tomorrow at Old Mill will be close.
Whitman has lost three games in three years to Centennial -- each of them by one Boys soccer
goal, including a 1-0 decision earlier this season.
And though the Vikings are only seeded fourth, they are hot. They have four straight shutouts and are coming off an upset of formerly unbeaten and top-seeded Thomas Stone.
Centennial must win the battle of midfields and keep Whitman from playing a ball-control game.
Whitman has national team player Judah Cooks (six goals) and Karsten DaPonte leading its midfield.
Centennial has Chris Arcella (five goals) and Doug Ulman (nine goals) leading its midfield, along with Mike Resau and Morgan Kershner.
Both teams like to work the wings but for different reasons. Whitman likes to set up crossing passes. Centennial likes to get corner kicks and long throw-ins.
But the Eagles are capable of coming down the middle if Rehan Gill, who scored the game-winning goal against Whitman, drops back to midfield and sets up speedsters Brian West (eight goals) and Brad Terrill (eight goals).
Centennial has outscored its opponents,56-9, and shut out eight of them.
Dan Christine has excelled in the net, and sweeper Werner Krueger has been Centennial's enforcer.
Outside defense is Whitman's weakness, a factor that bodes well for Centennial.
But the Vikings (10-5), who were 2-4 earlier in the season, have something to prove to the Eagles.
Centennial won state titles in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1991. Whitman won state titles in 1979, 1981 and 1989.
Whitman is ranked No. 9 by the Washington Post. Centennial is ranked No. 2 by The Sun.
"We struggled early this year with injuries and internal discipline problems, and only three kids have played every game for us," Whitman coach Sam DeBone said.
Whitman's losses include Centennial, Churchill (4A state finalist), Sherwood, Blair and Walter Johnson.
"Whitman likes a slow pace and that will help us," Centennial coach Bill Stara said. "We have better overall speed than they do."
Class 3A final
Time: 5 p.m.
Site: Old Mill High
Records: Centennial, 13-0-2; Whitman, 10-5
Key: Centennial must not allow Whitman to play a ball-control game and must win the midfield.