Words: Sandy Eichhorn
Photos: Izzie Chausse
On Thursday, November 5, Centennial Boys’ Soccer defeated rival Mt. Hebron in the third round of playoffs. The game was intense and stressful; the win finally decided after two overtimes and penalty kicks.
Motivated by two heartbreaking losses in the previous playoff seasons, the Eagles came out as a dominant force, creating many offensive chances and clearing many of Hebron’s attacks. Senior goalie EJ Fowler, senior defenders Bobby Nasafi and Tom Brown, and junior defender Ryan Maher kept Hebron’s offense off of the scoreboard for most of the first half.
On the offensive side, senior Michael Merkey and juniors Paul Drutch and Ammar Narmouq continuously beat the Hebron defense through expert passing and foot skill.
The Eagles struggled initially, but when once they found their rhythm, they quickly produced a goal.
At the 20 minute mark of the first half, Sophomore Nick Haskins dribbled past the Hebron defense and slid the ball past the goalie giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Though the Eagles continued to play hard, the Viking offense was able to get a goal with 8:24 left in the half.
The Eagles and Vikings were tied 1-1 at the half.
Entering the second half, both teams came out with a vengeance. As the fog moved in and covered the field, the crowd grew louder as the teams battled it out on the field. Narmouq and Merkey created many goal scoring opportunities but were unable to put any in. The Eagle defense stopped the Vikings’ momentum by heading out any crosses from our defensive third.
The game became physical as fatigue set in, but the boys continued to play hard. The Eagles hit many impressive free kicks but were unable to score until the last two minutes of the game when Narmouq took the ball down the left flank of the field and got the ball past the goalie.
With seconds left the Eagles were winning 2-1, but the Vikings continued to fight and were able to score with four seconds left.
The game was tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation.
Neither team scored in the first overtime and few chances were created on either side of the field.
During the second overtime, the Vikings had many close chances, but Fowler, Brown, and Maher kept the ball from going into the net. Haskins and Narmouq generated many offensive chances and won many corners for the team, but the Eagles remained scoreless. At the end of overtime, the teams were still tied and headed into PKs.
Centennial took the first PK, and Merkey hit it past the keeper, but the Hebron player did the same. Nasafi took the second kick, and scored, but the Vikings answered with a goal of their own. Junior Justin Breedlove took the third shot. The Hebron goalie guessed correctly and got a hand on the ball, but Breedlove hit the ball hard enough that it was able to go through. Hebron missed their third shot, giving the Eagles an edge. Narmouq scored on the fourth PK, and Hebron made another shot. Brown missed the fifth shot, but the Eagles were still up 4-3. With the game on the line, Fowler stepped up and saved the Vikings final shot, winning the game. The Eagles quickly began to celebrate as the entire team ran to Fowler and jumped in a dog pile. After shaking hand with the Vikings, the Centennial fans sprinted onto the field to congratulate their team.
The Eagles will take on Atholton at home on Tuesday, November 10, to compete for the Regional Title.
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