Hammond upsets No. 5 Centennial

Bears pull off surprise with 3-1 win in West final

Class 2A boys soccer

High School

November 07, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

About the only thing Hammond failed to achieve in last night's upset of No. 5-ranked Centennial in the Class 2A West Regional final was to douse coach Trevin London with ice water. He sprinted away three times.

The Bears boys soccer team scored early, late and relatively often against the normally stingy Eagles, scoring a 3-1 victory that stunned Centennial but came as no surprise to Hammond.

It was Hammond's first regional title after losing in the final in 1996 and 1997, and it sends the Bears (10-8) to the state semifinals later this week (against the winner of the Stephen Decatur-Edgewood game) riding a six-game winning streak.

In a season of ups and downs and uncertainty, junior striker Kwaku Boateng remained a bedrock. He scored the first and last goals, giving him 29 for the season and nine in the playoffs.

"I asked Kwaku to turn it up for the playoffs because I knew he had to if we hoped to win," Hammond coach Trevin London said.

After Steve Basso scorched a shot off the crossbar in the second minute, Boateng was there to deposit the rebound into the goal for a stunning Hammond advantage.

"All I wanted was to score first," London said. "And when we did I knew it's be difficult to beat us."

Centennial (11-4) defeated Hammond during the regular season, 1-0 - one of eight Eagles shutouts. But the Bears displayed a different style this time around, and it forced the Eagles to stretch their defense in ways they weren't used to.

Hammond drove the ball down the sideline, keeping consistent pressure on Centennial's defense and creating many opportunities.

"We knew they were dangerous and expected to give up something," Centennial coach Jim Zehe said. "We were unfazed by that first goal because we came back and scored 10 minutes later. We had a few defensive breakdowns that were disappointing. Hammond worked much better together this time than the first time we played."

Randy Collins scored Centennial's goal by beating goalkeeper Nick Hall one-on-one. But Hall played the best game of his career by making 13 saves.

"I knew I had to play the best game of my life or we wouldn't win," said Hall, who took chances repeatedly and played aggressively. "The toughest chances were the corners and throws because they were so much taller than us."

Basso, who played a role in all three Hammond goals, dumped a pass over a defender to teammate Casey Gunther streaking down the right side with 10 seconds left in the first half, and Gunther kicked in Hammond's second goal.

Basso's shot off Centennial goalkeeper Andy Wilhelm with 3:10 to play was followed up by Boateng for the Bears' third goal.

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