46-game Centennial streak ends River Hill's 1-0 victory ends no-loss league run Eagles started in 1990

September 20, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The king is dead. Long live the king. That was the sentiment among River Hill fans as the second-ranked Hawks handed seven-time state champion Centennial its first Howard County league loss since 1990 yesterday.

The hard-fought 1-0 defeat before a large crowd at River Hill was only Centennial's third loss in its last 51 games.

But it may have signaled the changing of the guard with second-year River Hill (3-0 overall, 1-0 league) apparently ready to replace Centennial as the county's top power.

The loss certainly ended a remarkable streak by Centennial in what many feel is the area's most competitive soccer league. Centennial, 12th-ranked, had won 32 straight league games and since 1990 had been unbeaten in the league with a 43-0-3 record.

"We beat the king, but they [Centennial] played extremely hard," said River Hill coach Bill Stara, architect of that Centennial dynasty as Eagles coach before moving to River Hill last season.

Two dangerous missed opportunities in the game's first six minutes would haunt Centennial, as River Hill wore down the Eagles and took control in the second half.

Centennial (2-2, 0-1) hung tenaciously together until Adom Crew's sliding goal with 4: 28 left to play provided the winning margin.

With a defender on his left, Crew ran 15 yards down the right side with a pass from midfielder Chris Hastings. Crew hooked the ball right-footed over the head of onrushing Centennial goalkeeper Mike Dramby, who missed the ball by 2 feet.

"I thought I was going to get it, but when I looked up, the ball was in the net. He got me this time," said Dramby, who had made a great save in the 34th minute.

"I played a ball across the back that I shouldn't have, and it wound up costing us the game," said senior Centennial midfielder Stu Kessler, who in four varsity seasons had never lost a league game. "It was a breakdown in concentration."

Everyone was thinking "overtime" until Crew's sudden goal.

"We had to work so hard," said River Hill sweeper Sam Salganik. "They were bigger and faster than I thought and good in the air."

River Hill stopper Todd Tedrow said: "It was a tough game, but we really wanted to be part of breaking the streak."

River Hill, which had nine corner kicks and seven throw-ins from inside Centennial's 18-yard line, drew this comment from Eagles coach Ron Martin: "River Hill outplayed us in the second half and earned their goal." Centennial's long unbeaten streak was the second broken in Baltimore-area boys soccer this week. On Wednesday, Archbishop Spalding ended a 27-game unbeaten run by Calvert Hall, also by 1-0 but in double-overtime.

Pub Date: 9/20/97

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