Eight-hundred minutes not long enough for Centennial

Eight-hundred minutes.

That’s how long Centennial’s boys soccer team has held its opponents scoreless during the 2009 season. Twenty halves; 10 games; 800 minutes.

Goalkeepers Julien Mihy and Adrian Rodriguez have combined for 10 shutouts and have allowed only four goals all season.

The strong defense also has led to a potent offense. The Bulldogs (12-0-1, 10-0-1 Northwest) have allowed just 0.3 goals per game and have scored 48 of their own on the season, or 3.4 per game.

“We hold the back very well, making it so our offense has a chance to score and not play defense,” Mihy said. “We can play the ball well and don’t just bomb it up. We play balls through the midfield.”

The Mauritius Island-born goalkeeper comes from a family of keepers. Mihy’s father, Christopher Mihy, grew up as  goalkeeper near Marseilles, France, and later became a keeper’s coach.

The younger Mihy also attended a number of college camps over the summer, most recently at UNLV, where he hopes to play college soccer while studying for physical therapy school.

Mihy has become one of the top goalkeepers in the state. And he has a little extra motivation now.

Mihy lost a friend and former teammate last week when Centennial senior Pierino Halley died in an auto accident.

“We gave his parents the No. 12 uniform, so I had to give up my (old) white jersey,” he said. “But now I get to wear his jersey. I know he’s watching over me. I am proud to be able to wear his uniform. It’s a sad loss, but I enjoy wearing his uniform and having him watch over me.”

The defense has clicked, prompting the offense to click similarly.

“When I see (the defense) working so hard, I know they’re doing well, so I want to do better and score for them,” said Chance Rosa, who moved to Centennial at the beginning of the school year from Cimarron-Memorial and leads the Bulldogs with 18 goals. “If they can keep balls out of our goal, it makes me want to put them in the other team’s goal.”

Centennial’s offense has distributed the ball well, with 15 goal scorers on the season. And the Bulldogs are just as well connected off the field as on it, according to head coach Tommy Porrello.

“They enjoy being teammates,” Porrello said. “They enjoy playing together. It’s a very harmonious group that enjoys playing and being teammates. The loss they had (last week) made them reflect on the opportunity to be teammates. As tragic as the situation is, it has helped our team get closer.”

Rosa echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“I played at Cimarron last year, and this (team) is a big step above that,” he said. “I didn’t think they would accept me like they did. These guys push me harder than (my old teammates) did last year.”

The Bulldogs recorded a 16-2-0 (14-0-0 Northwest) record in 2008 and returned a solid core of seniors, including Matt Kurtz, Isaac Ramirez and Josh Sylva, whom Porrello said plays a “big part in keeping everyone organized and solidifies the defense.”

Add to that group a striker like Rosa and a goalkeeper like Mihy, and Centennial has the elements of a possible state championship.

“(The defense) sets a balance where all the players can assume a certain role, not feeling like any one person has to be back so far,” Porello said. “They trust each other; that’s something you want to develop all over the field. … Right now, things are going well, and we just need to continue working for another three weeks to put ourselves in the best position possible.”

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