Tradition holds: Centennial wins title

November 20, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

The T-shirts said it all: "Tradition Centennial Soccer" in bright red letters.

Tradition is what fuels the hearts of Centennial soccer players; tradition is what helped the No. 1 Eagles yesterday win their third state championship in four years, defeating C. Milton Wright, 2-0.

"Our main job is to uphold the Centennial soccer tradition," said senior captain Doug Ulman. "We wanted to win this for the entire school and for the younger players who now know the feeling of winning."

It was Centennial's sixth state championship. The Eagles lost in the finals to Whitman last season.

This season it defeated Whitman twice, including in the state semifinals, to regain the top spot.

"We played great to beat Whitman, but if we had lost tonight it would have meant nothing," said Ulman, who scored both goals in the semifinal against Whitman.

No. 5 C. Milton Wright (12-2-4) had tied Centennial in the Eagles' first game this season, and also in a regular-season game last season.

But in yesterday's state championship game at Old Mill, the Eagles applied intense offensive pressure that pinned the Mustangs back consistently.

"We were forced to play so much defense that we had trouble getting up front," Mustangs coach Paul Snyder said.

Centennial (15-0-2), in recording its 10th shutout, generated 10 corner kicks -- seven in the first half.

"Even though we didn't score in that half, we were pinning them in and preventing them from scoring," Centennial coach Bill Stara said.

Centennial eventually did score off a corner kick by Brian West (seven goals, 13 assists) in the 53rd minute.

Matt Stephenson (nine goals, six assists) scored the goal. "I trapped the corner on the near post and kicked it in," Stephenson said.

In the 70th minute, the Eagles put the game away on a goal by fullback Kumi Walker.

Walker made a 360-degree turnaround to slip a defender and then booted a left-footer inside the near post from the 18-yard line.

It was his first goal and elicited some of that traditional family feeling that Walker, who transferred from Howard this season, said he enjoys about Centennial.

His teammates kidded him about scoring. His coach told him: "You better get those shoes bronzed."

"This team is a family that helps one another with problems on and off the field," Walker said. "The coach is always there, and everybody pretty much gets along. We all want the same thing and work hard to get it."

Ulman and teammates Kris Dramby and Brock Yetso completed their high school careers without playing in a losing game, and with three state titles. All three missed most of last season due to a school disciplinary action.

That setback taught them humility. The T-shirts didn't say: "State champs." And it taught them how to be gracious winners. The three were all complimentary toward C. Milton Wright despite the tough, physical game.

"They were a decent team that had heart and didn't give up," said Yetso.

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