With nearly 10 minutes left in the first half, Mount Hebron girls lacrosse coach P. J. Kesmodel wanted a word with his defending state champions.
"I called a timeout just to yell at them," Kesmodel said of his Vikings, who started sluggishly and only led host Centennial, 4-1 at that point.
Whatever Kesmodel said, it worked. The No. 1-ranked Vikings picked up the pace to earn a 9-2 halftime lead, eventually topping the Eagles, 15-4, yesterday in a showcase of Howard county's two best teams.
Still, after Mount Hebron (7-0, 3-0 in county play) won its 25th straight game, Kesmodel said, "This is the worst game we've played in a couple of years."
"I didn't think the effort was there in the beginning," he said. "In the first half, Centennial (4-2) was beating us to ground balls. Who was going to win was never in doubt, but we just weren't playing hard."
Kesmodel praised his defense, particularly for its second-half play, but said the offense "stunk."
Attackers Lori Pasquantonio and Cathy Nelson, the Vikings' top scorers, had five goals apiece. Senior midfielder Amy Fine tallied two goals and two assists, and sophomore attack Danielle Vissers scored twice.
Pasquantonio's second goal at 11:18 of the first half created a 4-0 game.
But three minutes later, senior attack Jenny Wienecke eluded two defenders for Centennial's first goal.
After the Eagles' Jamie Fontaine received a yellow card, Nelson scored off a free position at 15:29, the first of three straight Vikings goals. Wienecke scored at 20:25, but goals by Fine and midfielder Erin McGinnis six seconds apart created the seven-goal halftime margin.
Despite scoring twice, Wienecke, Centennial's leading scorer, was virtually ineffective.
She and attack Amber Saunders were marked tightly by defenders Tierney Clark and Megan Waterfield, who along with goalie Ali True (nine saves), led Kesmodel's congratulatory list.
"I expected [Mount Hebron] to come out like gangbusters and score in the first five seconds and be clean and crisp on their passes," Eagles coach Gail Purcell said. "They settled down just a few minutes into the second half."
The Eagles' Lily Hahm scored for a 10-3 game at 2:27. But despite a poor shooting percentage, Mount Hebron was too much for goalie Renee Svehla (12 saves ).
She made some point-blank saves, but relinquished three straight goals between 4:33 and 8:24, giving the Vikings a 13-3 cushion.
Mount Hebron, coming off a weekend tournament in which it beat Pennsylvania's defending state champ, 13-10, might have had a letdown, said Kesmodel.
"If we play like we did today against a good team on the state level, we get beat," he said. "We play [No. 5] St. Mary's [next Wednesday], and if we play like we did today, we'll get beat."