Opportunistic Eagles stun No. 4 River Hill 2-1 win sends Centennial to 2A state semifinals

Girls soccer

November 11, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

It was Centennial's night.

River Hill created more and better scoring opportunities, but 14th-ranked Centennial got two opportunistic goals and a sensational effort by goalie Erica Niemann to surprise the fourth-ranked Hawks, 2-1, last night in the Class 2A South Region championship at Howard High.

Centennial, which ended the regular season with three straight one-goal losses to finish 5-4 in the county, will play South River Friday at Howard in the state semifinals. South River, Class 2A-3A state co-champions last year with River Hill, beat Queen Anne's, 5-0.

The Eagles (11-6) return to the state tournament for the first time since 1995, when they tied Severna Park for the Class 3A-4A title.

"This is far better than anything in the county. This is where it counts," said senior Mandy Zachmann, who played very well and made a goal-saving defensive play with 15 minutes left in the first half. "We needed to show everybody that we can do it, and we're not just the team that gets into double-overtime and loses."

Centennial lost games to Hammond, River Hill and Mount Hebron in double overtime.

The Eagles stunned River Hill (13-4) with a goal 3: 20 into the game. River Hill sweeper Natalie Klisas tried to clear the ball from the center of the box when her kick hit the right shin guard of Kim Paulus and ricocheted into the back of the net. River Hill goalie Jennifer Wright had no chance.

River Hill, playing against the wind in the first half, had a few chances to tie the game before halftime. It's best opportunity came with 15: 30 left, when Leilani Ho stole the ball at the 25-yard line and dribbled in alone. She faked Niemann and had a wide open shot, but Zachmann came charging in and kicked the ball across the goal and out of danger.

River Hill tied the game 2: 38 into the second half. Shannon Jackson headed the ball to the center, just above the box, and Krista Killian outfought two Centennial defenders and put it past Niemann.

"When they scored that first goal I was a little nervous," said Centennial coach Mike Senisi.

But five minutes later, Centennial senior Jane Williams used her head to score the game winner.

"The ball was crossed in and it hit someone's head and then it hit Ashley Evans' leg and I headed it in," Williams said. "I was at the right place at the right time. It was just bouncing around in there and there was a scramble."

Niemann (eight saves) took over after that. The sophomore goalie, who a year ago on the same field had a disappointing effort in a 5-1 loss to Oakland Mills in the Class 1A-2A South Region final, made one sliding save after another.

"She was amazing," Williams said. "She saved us so many times."

River Hill outshot Centennial, 9-2, in the second half. The Hawks took good shots, and pressured Niemann to the end, but she would not be denied.

"I don't think they played better then us, but they finished their chances and we didn't," said Killian. "I think we gave it a good effort, it just didn't work out."

Pub Date: 11/11/98

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