No. 1 Centennial defeats Bel Air for 2nd straight championship, 4-1 3A boys soccer

November 19, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Centennial's leading scorer, Brian West, didn't practice all week because he was banged up from last week's game against Thomas Stone.

The week off didn't hurt him a bit.

The senior striker, known as "The Flash," scored three goals to lead top-ranked Centennial to its second straight Class 3A state championship yesterday at Old Mill.

The Eagles, ranked No. 5 in the nation by USA Today, won their fourth state title in five years and seventh overall by defeating No. 8 Bel Air, 4-1. It was Centennial's 31st straight victory.

"There's speed," said Bel Air coach Bill Jefferson about West. "And then there's speed. You can't cover his kind of speed."

Said Centennial coach Bill Stara: "It was great stuff from West and the players who got him the ball -- a great way to go out."

West (18 goals, 17 assists) flashed down the right sideline, took a cross from Matt Laycock and volleyed in his first goal from 18 yards out 1:45 into the game. It stunned the young Bobcats, who started four seniors.

"We recovered well after that first goal and shut them down the rest of the half," said Bobcats sweeper Billy Nelson. "But then we lost it at midfield. They were too fast for us."

Although outshot 15-2 in the first half, Bel Air tied it on an 18-yard volley to the far post by Ryan Zimmerman off an assist by Chris Chumley in the 46th minute.

"The kid hit a great ball and it was a little bit of a wake-up call for us, but there wasn't a sense of urgency on our part," Stara said.

"We figured we'd get the second one in time. After their goal, we just stepped it up to a new level."

Six minutes later, Centennial retaliated when Laycock (13, seven) boomed a 30-yard volley just inside the far post -- an almost impossible shot.

"That second goal was a killer," Jefferson said.

West hit a rocket off the crossbar in the 52nd minute before scoring his second goal in the 63rd minute. Senior midfielder Cory Piette (eight, nine) sent him another perfect lead pass down the middle.

West accelerated past several defenders, took the pass on the run and scored from inside the box on a hard volley.

He described his burst of speed as his "goal-hungry gear."

Goalkeeper Christian Lewis, one of six Centennial seniors, tipped a header by Zimmerman over the bar in the 69th minute -- one of the game's best saves.

And West finished up in the 74th minute with another flash of speed to take another pass from Piette at the top of the box. West's hard volley landed inside the far post.

"It's nice to go out with a bang," West said. "Matt [Stephenson] was hurting, so they were looking to me to score.

"We didn't have a good showing last week. We were humbled. So we refocused for this game. We wanted to make a point."

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