BALTIMORE — As their opponents ran off to the warmth of the locker room, the Centennial Eagles opted to remain in the frigid night air for the 10-minute halftime break. They gathered in a circle around a corner flag, hands in pockets or on hips, to discuss how they could better keep up with the Tuscarora Titans.
Coming into Thursday’s Maryland 3A boys’ soccer championship game at Loyola University, that clearly was the challenge the Eagles would face: How do you match up with one of the state’s most dynamic offenses? The solution remained elusive in the first half, and the Eagles trailed by two goals as they huddled in the dark corner of the turf field.
In the second half, Centennial discovered that some questions have no answers as Tuscarora ran away with a 3-0 victory.
“We played a phenomenal team,” Coach Justin Thomas said. “The game is cruel. But I’m proud of how hard we fought.”
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Centennial, seeking its ninth state championship but its first since 1995, arrived as the king of Howard County’s proud soccer landscape. The Eagles (14-3-1) won the county title for the second season in a row, emerging from a crowded field thanks to an undefeated streak of 10 matches. In the playoffs, they posted two shutouts in three rounds as they stormed to the final.
“The atmosphere was something we’ve never felt and some of us will never feel again,” senior forward Riley Senisi said of Thursday’s game. “We had to take it in, then try to relax and play our game. … We didn’t get the result today, but it was definitely a great experience.”
The Titans, a Frederick County power, are a popular early-season opponent for ambitious teams from the D.C. area seeking a nonconference challenge. This fall, Tuscarora toppled Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Magruder and Wilde Lake before punishing a parade of foes from closer to home. Ahead of Thursday’s matchup, Tuscarora (18-1-0) had claimed its 17 wins by an average of 3.6 goals.
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That scoring prowess was on display early Thursday as Tuscarora controlled the run of play in the first half and produced the first goal in the 25th minute. On its heels and down a goal, Centennial continued to absorb the pressure and look for opportunities on the counterattack.
In the 31st minute, Tuscarora doubled its lead. Centennial kept the Titans mostly quiet after halftime, earning a larger portion of possession and playing stronger defense. But Tuscarora’s Nicholas Stevenson scored the second of his two goals with eight minutes remaining to extinguish the Eagles’ hopes.
“What I’m proud of this team for is the character they’ve developed and shown,” Thomas said. “That’s first and foremost for me — that they’ve developed into good young men. We know the historic value of a run like this, but that’s what matters to me.”
Tuscarora beats Centennial for Maryland 3A boys' soccer championship – The Washington Post