Centennial, No. 5 River Hill battle for 100 minutes to 1-1 tie

Smith's 15 saves key No. 8 Eagles' gutsy play

Girls soccer

High Schools

October 13, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Over the course of 100 minutes of soccer yesterday, Centennial goalie Betsy Smith got elbowed in the head, hip-checked to the ground at least twice, had blurred vision and got peppered with nearly two dozen shots from River Hill's vaunted offense.

Through it all, one thought kept spinning through her head.

"Bring it on," Smith said.

It was simply that kind of day, where swagger was almost as important as a score, as No. 8 Centennial and No. 5 River Hill played 80 emotional minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

The emotions were decidedly different when it was over. Centennial (8-2-1 overall, 4-1-1 in county) was pleased with the outcome, River Hill (8-2-1, 4-1-1) disappointed. The Hawks took 23 shots to the Eagles' eight, and had two ricochet off the cross bar. On top of it all, three yellow cards were issued. But both sides agreed that Smith, who made 15 saves, was the ultimate difference.

"Betsy had the game of her life out there," said Centennial coach Mike Senisi. "She was just phenomenal. The fans got their money's worth."

Said River Hill coach Joan Kelso Smedley: "[Smith] was the difference in the game. I was proud of the way we played, because we had a lot of chances, but we couldn't get another goal past her."

In the game's ninth minute, freshman Mandy Paizs raced past two River Hill defenders on a quick change of possession, and blasted a shot from a good 20 yards out that Hawks goalie Erin Ferguson couldn't quite reign in. Just like that, Centennial was up 1-0.

The Eagles nearly made their lead stand up, but in the 59th minute, Hawks sophomores Kara Lewis and Jackie Stromberg tied the game by hooking up on one of the prettiest goals of the year. After shaking a defender in the far right corner, Stromberg sent a perfect cross into the middle of the field, and the 5-foot-1 Lewis calmly flicked the ball off her head and into the back of the net.

"Jackie made the perfect pass, right on my head," Lewis said. "I knew I wouldn't have much to do other than redirect it."

From there it was a standoff. River Hill's Lindsay Hinkle hit the cross bar late in regulation, but that was the closest either team got to the game-winner.

"I felt like we'll show you our best, you show us yours," Smith said. "I don't think either team is happy with the tie. I know we're not going to lose the rest of the way. I'm not going to let it happen."

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