Centennial senior forward Lily Boleyn sprinted through Glenelg's defense for a pass from sophomore forward Alissa Vorce with under five minutes remaining in a scoreless game last week. Boleyn collected the ball in front of the goalie, made a quick move left, then scored the only goal of the game, putting the Eagles (7-1-1 overall, 4-0-1 league) atop the county standings.

The goal illustrated how the Eagles' newest players have blended in with their veterans.

Boleyn played on varsity as a sophomore, then moved to Bradenton, Fla., with her family last year so she could improve her skills at the IMG Academy. She returned to Centennial for her senior year.

Senior forward Sarah Thomas is a transfer from Oakland Mills. Freshman stopper Leanne Catalano, sophomore midfielder Jessica Martinek and Vorce are playing their first year on varsity.

Several talented players returned from last year's team, which reached the Maryland 3A final, including senior goalie Caitlyn Burr, senior midfielder Danielle Rosanova and junior sweeper Sara Cooper.

Together the new mix of Eagles has compensated for the graduation of several top players.

All-Met midfielder Hayley Siegel is playing for Santa Clara and forward Mandy Paizs is playing for Maryland. Midfielder Rosie Goldberg and defender Lauren Palmer are suiting up for Towson. Those four collectively posted 23 goals and 20 assists last season.

"There's no question we lost a lot of great players from last year's team," Coach Mike Senisi said. "On the first day of tryouts the girls were sitting on the track and I told them to look around because there is no reason with the talent we have we can't be successful."

"I said it at the beginning of the year: They are still Centennial," Glenelg Coach Dean Sheridan said. "A down year at Centennial means they are only the 10th best team in the state instead of being in the top three in the state."

The Eagles feature a balanced scoring attack led by senior midfielder Jessica Sturgill (five goals), Boleyn (four goals, five assists), Rosanova (four goals, three assists), sophomore forward Elsa Wu (two goals, two assists) and Thomas (one goal, three assists).

"Coming into the season a lot of people said that we were going to be down because we lost a lot of great seniors, and I was a little worried," Rosanova said. "But I'm not anymore because everything is falling into place."

The Eagles lost to River Hill and tied Glenelg last year but have defeated both teams this year. And they have been even stingier on defense; they entered the week having allowed just four goals, including three in a season-opening loss to Seton Keough.

"The big thing about this team is that we've gotten better and better ever since the first day," Cooper said. "I think we've taken every game as a challenge. I think beating River Hill and Glenelg was huge for us because it gave us a lot of confidence."

Centennial's players are motivated by a 1-0 loss to Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the state final last year, when the Eagles squandered several scoring opportunities before Natasha Mann scored the game-winning goal in the 41st minute.

"We talk about that game all the time," Cooper said. "We were so close to winning the state championship, and then we lost it. It really hurt to lose that game, and we don't want to feel that way again this season."