Centennial's Joe Lowrance scored three goals for the first time this season as the Eagles defeated Mount Hebron, 7-4, in the Class 3A-4A West Region playoffs yesterday.
But after the game Lowrance (18 goals, six assists), a junior midfielder, wanted to talk about Centennial's defense of Chris Cochran, Steve Puckett and Matt Rainwater.
"I don't think our defense gets enough credit," Lowrance said. "It keeps us in every game."
The defense created some major problems for Mount Hebron (8-5) in the first half and allowed 13th-ranked Centennial (12-2) to forge a 6-1 lead at halftime.
"We couldn't clear in the first half because we didn't understand their ride and kept throwing the ball away," Mount Hebron coach Warren Michael said. "We adjusted at the half and started clearing it more."
The Vikings also felt the loss of Scott Baughman, who has scored 51 points but missed his third game yesterday because of a separated shoulder. In the first meeting between the two teams, which Centennial also won, Baughman won the draw on 14 of 17 faceoffs.
Yesterday, led by junior midfielder Rob Hauff, Centennial won 14 of 15 faceoffs. Hauff (21 goals, 15 assists) also scored twice and had an assist.
When Mount Hebron's Todd Petrlik scored with three minutes left and cut Centennial's lead to 6-3, it was Hauff who took control and scored on a bounce shot with 2:25 left.
"Hauff came up big at the end again for us," Lowrance said.
Lowrance scored twice in the first quarter that ended with the Eagles ahead 4-0. He scored again in the second quarter -- Centennial's sixth goal. All of Lowrance's goals were unassisted.
"Hauff and Lowrance hurt us," Michael said. "We just didn't match up with them."
Although the Eagles enjoyed the win and are delighted to be playing host to Tuesday's regional final, they again showed their inability to put a team away after getting an early lead.
"It scares me," Centennial coach Mike Siegert said.
Siegert thought his team was outplayed from the midway point of the second quarter to the end of the game.
"Their goalkeeper [Sean Buchanan] did an excellent job and made some nice saves. Their close defense [Shane Campbell, Mark Brown and Michael Cronin] did a nice job on our attackmen. And they got us into a running game which we didn't want because of our lack of depth at midfield," Siegert said.
Centennial, which shared a three-way county championship this season with Oakland Mills and Glenelg, is the defending regional champion but lost to Broadneck in the state semifinals.