Park Center vs. Centennial

7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 13

A combination of an early season Class 2A, Section 5 test and a game with vital Northwest Suburban Conference points on the line should heighten the importance of this matchup between Park Center and Centennial. 

The Pirates have been the less defensively consistent of the two teams, allowing multiple goals in all but one game this year. However, Park Center has proven its ability to score with its opponents since a 4-1 loss to Champlin Park in the season opener on Aug. 28. The Pirates (3-2, 2-2) have tallied four goals twice this year and recorded their season high in a 5-4 victory at Osseo on Sept. 6. 

Chief Williams has scored a team-best seven times this year for Park Center, while Gabriel Nyenka leads the team with four assists. Both juniors must be at their best for the Pirates to break down a strong Cougars defense led by goalkeeper Richard Hemric (.850 save percentage, 0.49 goals-against average in six games).

With the junior in net, Centennial has allowed goals in only two games this year and gave up multiple goals only in a 2-1 loss to Champlin Park on Sept. 4.

The Cougars (5-1, 3-1), however, can't be reliant on their defensive solidity to control the high-potential Park Center attack and will need to pick up the slack on the front end to sink the Pirates. They have scored multiple goals on only two occasions, including a 7-0 victory over Osseo on Aug. 29., and must give the offense a platform to score one or two deciding goals. 

Demetrius Bernardy-Nelson is almost assured to be involved in whatever attacks Centennial creates. The junior has been directly involved in 11 of the Cougars' 13 goals this season, scoring seven and assisting on four.