Centennial nips Hebron in OT, again Vikings make believers of fans, Eagles, but bow, 2-1

Boys soccer

November 06, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mount Hebron lost the Class 3A East Region championship game in overtime last night at Howard, 2-1, but the Vikings made believers out of Centennial and about 1,500 spectators.

Top-ranked Centennial (14-0) had beaten No. 4 Mount Hebron (11-3) 13 days ago in overtime, 3-2, with the county title at stake.

"The first time I didn't believe they were that good, but now I do," said Eagles striker Matt Stephenson, whose cross off a restart found Matt Laycock (10 goals, 11 assists) at the far post for a winning header just 1: 30 into sudden-death overtime.

"Mount Hebron played outstanding. In the second half, they outplayed us. They were strong in the air and didn't let us get our offense going," Stephenson said.

The winning goal was protested by some Mount Hebron players, especially Vikings midfielder Pat Halter.

"It was a goal," Laycock said. "I got nudged by a defender right into the ball, and I headed it down, which is what you want."

The ball bounced, came up and bounced off the underside of the crossbar and then bounced back down into the goal before Mount Hebron goalkeeper Tom Wunk quickly pushed it out.

Stephenson's cross was from 25 yards out and near the sideline. "I've never done that before in a game," he said.

The victory was two-time defending state champion Centennial's 45th straight and gave the Eagles their 10th regional championship. They have won four of the last five Class 3A state titles and seven overall.

Mount Hebron has never won a regional title.

"My heart is still beating 100 mph," Stephenson said afterward. "I give Mount Hebron a lot of credit. But we came out mad in overtime and wanted to get it over with quick."

Mount Hebron dominated the last 15 minutes of regulation offensively.

Mike Stromberg kicked a bullet off the crossbar with two minutes left in regulation. Robbie Graham got open in close twice in the final 5: 30 -- and twice Centennial goalkeeper Christian Lewis made spectacular saves.

"Christian was our lifesaver tonight," Stephenson said.

"Without him we don't get to overtime," Laycock said.

Centennial scored in the 20th minute on a shot by Matt Walton off a mis-kick by Vikings sweeper Eric Mason.

Mount Hebron tied it in the 36th minute on a header by Stromberg from the 6-yard line off a corner kick by Pete Lindahl.

"In soccer, the better team doesn't always win," said Mount Hebron coach Pete Conroy. "We were the better team today, although Centennial is very good. We hit four posts."

Pub Date: 11/06/96

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