Young Centennial collects another impressive victory Eagles top Hammond, 3-2,behind Bayraktar, Conejo

October 08, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Winning a Howard County championship seemed impossible last week, but the 10th-ranked Centennial Eagles are one giant step closer following their 3-2 victory over the 12th-ranked Hammond Bears yesterday.

Centennial (6-2 overall, 4-1 league), winner of the past six county titles, was counted out as possible champion this season after graduating all but one starter.

But River Hill's loss to Oakland Mills last Friday, and Centennial's response to nearly every challenge has renewed the Eagles' hopes.

"Almost everyone thought River Hill would go undefeated," said Centennial coach Ron Martin, whose Eagles lost to the Hawks earlier, 1-0.

Momentum seems to favor Centennial, winner of four straight games. "We're not unstoppable, but to win a game against a contender like Hammond gives us a ton of momentum," said midfielder Stu Kessler, Centennial's lone returning starter.

Hammond (6-3-1, 2-3), on the other hand, has been in a tailspin, losing three of its past five games after a strong 4-0-1 start.

Martin got a powerful offensive performance at Hammond from two players attending Centennial on student visas, Mehmet Bayraktar from Turkey and Andres Conejo from Costa Rica.

Bayraktar scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 47th minute off a short crossing kick from Randy Van Allen in front of the goal.

Bayraktar also scored his team's first goal in the 24th minute by deflecting a low kick from Matt Hewitt off his leg from about 10 yards out.

Centennial led 2-0 at halftime after Mike Martin headed in a chip from Todd Sajauskas in the 34th minute.

Bayraktar saw more action at forward than normal because Chris Moe is nursing a sore quadriceps muscle. The speedy, muscular Turkish import missed two more excellent Conejo-generated opportunities in front of the goal.

"Andres makes things happen for us with his ball control," Martin said. "We missed him the first 20 minutes of the second half because he felt dizzy at halftime and had to sit out."

Hammond rallied early in the second half, scoring in the 44th and 46th minutes. Jason Decker snuffed a clearing attempt by Kessler and passed the ball to Ryan Pflugrad, who kicked it in for Hammond's first score. Landry Honza headed in a kick from Doug Tucci for the second goal.

"I never had a team score two goals so quickly," Hammond coach Rich Corkran said.

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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