Another dominant defensive effort and the unlikiest of goal scorers equaled the end of Century High’s girls soccer championship drought Friday evening.
The 14th-ranked Knights defeated defending champ and No. 8 Glenelg, 1-0, for the Class 2A state title at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex in Northwest Baltimore.
“It is the best feeling attainable playing high school sports,” Century senior goalkeeper Mia Graff said. “We have been building up close to this for the couple of years. A step closer [each year] and to finally finish it off. It’s incredible.”
The Carroll County school (14-4 overall) earned its seventh straight shutout Friday to claim its first state championshp since 2013.
After a scoreless first half, the Knights grabbed the lead when senior defender Emily Beall-Dennell knocked in a pass from freshman midfielder Mia Savage following a corner kick in the 54th minute.
It was Beall-Dennell’s first goal of the season.
“It just didn’t feel real,” Beall-Dennell said. “It was insane. Those are the type of bouncing balls that I am always afraid I am going to [mishit]. I was just so shocked that I was able to put it in.”
Century coach Chris Little was pointed that Beall-Dennell is the 16th player to score a goal.
“One player does not define who we are,” Little said. “We work very hard to make sure each one of our players has an opportunity to be successful and create success for the team.”
That mantra was never more evident than in this contest as the Knights stayed strong on defense despite losing senior defensive captain Jane Brewer early in the contest.
“We talk a lot about purpose on this team and everybody on this team has a purpose,” said Little, who saw senior defender Sheridan Cline stepped in and the unit didn’t miss a beat.
“Next person up. Sheridan has a purpose on this team, and she stepped in right away. She plays a lot of minutes for us anyway so [she was ready]. Every player has a purpose on this team,” Little added. “Today, we had a freshman [Mia Savage] step in and give us quality minutes. We look to be purposeful with what we do with all our player personnel.”
The Knights defense made it tough for Glenelg when it entered the Century side of the field.
Beall-Dennell credited the cohesiveness Century has developed this season for allowing the team to feel confident in each other.
“Over the season, we began to learn how each other works,” Beall-Dennell said. “I feel like we didn’t even have to communicate that much towards the end. We just knew what to do at all times. We didn’t let anything by us, and we had an amazing goalie that saved us.”
Little said senior Bella Mastria, who missed the team’s preseason scrimmage with Glenelg was a factor Friday, pressuring the ball and stopped many runs before the Gladiators got off a shot.
“It was nice knowing that if I did end up getting beat, I always had somebody behind me,” Mastria said.
It was a tough end to an impressive season for Glenelg (13-4). Despite losing 13 seniors from last year’s title squad, the Howard County school was able to reach the final weekend of the public school season
with a chance to repeat.
“I am just proud of them,” Glenelg coach Vincente D’Antuono said. “It was nice for them to have this success after losing such senior leadership last year. This team was equally as talented, and they did well.”
D’Antuono honored senior wing Ginny Sung, who left a major imprint on Gladiators’ culture as a four-year varsity starter.
“Her heart and her leadership as a captain was fantastic,” D’Antuono said. “Her effort and her dig and the way she continues to work – and positivity and her nature in general – you can’t teach that.”
CLASS 2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Loyola University/Ridley Athletic Complex
NO. 14 CENTURY 1, NO. 8 GLENELG 0
Century 0 1 -- 1
Glenelg 0 0 -- 0
Goal: Century - Emily Beall-Dennell
Assist: Century - Mia Savage
Saves: Glenelg – Bella Buscher 4; Century – Mia Graff 6.