Senior midfielder Krista Killian's stunning line drive into the goal's top-left corner from about 25 yards gave No. 12-ranked River Hill a 3-2, double-overtime win at home against neighboring Centennial yesterday.
Killian's perfectly struck, right-foot goal above and beyond flying Eagles goalkeeper Erica Neiman about five minutes from the game's end was startling, because it came against the grain with Eagles defenders reacting to a deep pass back off Hawks sophomore Shannon Jackson.
"I just saw the ball coming back to me, and I wanted to shoot," said a thrilled Killian. "I knew not much time was left, and we really wanted to come back from the loss [last Friday] to Mount Hebron and show that we could do it."
The win kept alive hopes by River Hill (9-3 overall, 6-1 county) of at least earning a share of the Howard County championship. To do that, the Hawks must win their last two games, against Atholton (1-11, 0-7) on Friday and first-place, unbeaten Hammond next Tuesday, assuming Hammond also wins Friday.
Centennial (8-4, 5-2) dropped all but mathematically out of the county race, but the Eagles were still talking about getting another shot at River Hill in regionals. They tied River Hill in 1996 and last fall lost to the Hawks with about two minutes to go.
Yesterday's game was a call-and-response affair, with River Hill forward Rashida Walcott, a quick, determined sophomore, putting in two goals only to see Centennial senior Mandy Zachmann answer each time for 1-1 and 2-2 tie scores.
Walcott scored first in the 36th minute on a 25-yard run during which she controlled the ball through a stumble and a shirt tug, and cut it right to beat Neiman.
River Hill kept Centennial in its own part of the field for the second half's first 20 minutes. But Centennial was asserting itself when, in the 65th minute, Zachmann, tied the score from about 18 yards on the left.
Five minutes later, Walcott put River Hill up again, 2-1, squeezing a crisp shot by the post from about 4 yards on senior defender Karla Killian's feed.
Zachmann needed just two minutes to reply this time. Receiving a pass from senior forward Jane Williams, the Eagles' leading finisher passed neatly to herself just inside the box's top right and drove around a defender, making it 2-2 from from about nine yards.
Centennial coach Mike Senisi was satisfied, explaining: "No one really counted on us as contenders, but we've showed them we can compete with anybody."
"In the second half, we sort of lost our momentum," said River Hill coach Joan Kelso Smedley, "but we finally got it together again in overtime."