Wright can't stop No. 1 Centennial in final

C. M.

November 20, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

For Centennial High School, it was business as usual, and it did what it had to do. For C. Milton Wright, it was a whole new experience yesterday.

No. 1-ranked Centennial (15-0-2) made it three Class 3A boys soccer titles in the past four years, and six in the last 12, scoring twice in the second half for a 2-0 victory over No. 5 C. Milton Wright (12-2-4) at Old Mill High School.

Wright's only previous trip to the state tournament was in 1987, when it lost to South River. Over the last seven years, no Mustangs team had made it past the first round of the regionals until this one.

The Harford County team emphasized defense all season, and, at the state level, against a team the caliber of Centennial, that was fortunate.

The Eagles dominated the bruising game with their offense, outshooting Wright, 18-9, and overwhelming it with 10 corner kicks, one of which led to the game's first goal.

With 13 minutes gone in the second half, Centennial got a kick off of the corner play. The ball caromed off a player to Matt Stephenson, and he put it in the upper right corner of the net from 15 yards out on the left side.

"After the corner kick, we stayed on the post and let them run though, and they got the deflection," said sweeper Matt Youngerman, one of four senior starters for the Mustangs.

The ball was out of the reach of junior goalkeeper Tim Hilyard, who was surrounded by bodies.

Back Walker Kumi got the other goal with 10 minutes left, as he worked around a defender, and drilled an 18-yard left-footed shot into the lower right side of the goal.

It was his first goal of the year and, as coach Bill Stara said, "He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. I told him he'd better get those shoes bronzed."

Of C. Milton Wright, Stara said, "They defended well, but we pinned them with our corners -- seven in the first half. We were going to go to the goal."

The Eagles, with junior speedster Brian West seemingly always on the attack, either with his dribbling or his passing, certainly did that.

And Wright coach Paul Snyder had sophomore Ryan Nelson, more reasonably a striker, playing West, "because that's where we had to play him," he said.

"We were forced to play too much defense," junior midfielder Peter Troilo said.

"Their throw-ins and corners hurt us, and it was tough playing defense out of the middle. We just couldn't get the passes through from the back to get our offense going. And Joe [senior striker Joe Davis, the team's leading scorer with 17 goals] occasionally got stranded with the ball."

Snyder said, "We only do so many things well, and every time we play Centennial, we learn something."

The two sides had played to a 1-1 tie early in the season (Wright's second game after a loss to Calvert Hall, and Centennial's first), but as Hilyard said, "This was our toughest game. They were a lot better this time."

Hilyard finished with 10 saves, with several of the acrobatic kind and several punch outs out of a crowd on corners. He didn't get credit for his best one -- he dove, stretching full length off the ground, to make a two-handed grab of the ball. It came on an off-side whistle.

Centennial players, wearing T-shirts reading: "Tradition Centennial Soccer," were complimentary of the Mustangs.

"That 4 [Troilo], he's their best player," said midfielder Doug Ulman, who had the task of working against the Mustang.

Wright senior Stas Kotula said the defenders had a hard time keeping up with the Centennial speed, and Youngerman may have expressed it best when he said, "The ball kept coming back at us quicker than we could get it out."

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