Amiri Abraham scored the game-winning goal with 3:11 to play in the first half and Emmanuel Raji added an insurance goal with 18 minutes remaining to lead Collins Hill to a 3-1 victory over top-ranked Centennial in the Class AAAAA boys soccer championship on Friday.
Abraham and Raji each finished with a goal and assist for host Collins Hill (18-4), which won its third championship in four seasons and was making its fifth consecutive appearance in the state final.
The victory also was a great sendoff for Collins Hill coach Drew Prentice, who will be leaving at the end of the school year to become the director of coaching for the Dacula Soccer Club. In Prentice’s three seasons at the school, the Eagles won two state championships and had a record of 14-1 in the postseason.
Centennial (20-2-1) came up short its bid to win the school’s first soccer championship. The Knights lost to Collins Hill in 2009 in their other trip to the final. Centennial had won 13 consecutive games since a 2-2 tie against Habersham Central on March 20.
Abraham gave Collins Hill the lead for good when he took a crossing pass from Raji and headed it in for a 2-1 lead late in the first half. Raji’s goal off an assist from Carlos Estrada with 17:55 to play in the game completed the scoring.
The teams spent first 25 minutes feeling each other out, trading deep possessions but mounting little threat to goalkeepers Jackson Taylor of Collins Hill and Matt Celani of Centennial.
That all changed at the 14:32 mark of the first half, when Abraham passed from the right side to Nomas Cisic, who scored from about 20 yards out to give Collins Hill a 1-0 lead.
Both teams picked up the offense from that point. Centennial answered five minutes later when Cameron Bean got a free kick from Sterling Wendt and headed it in to tie the game 1-1, but Abraham’s goal six minutes later put the Eagles back in control.
The teams combined for seven shots in the first half, with Collins Hill holding a 4-3 advantage. Collins Hill finished the game with eight shots while limiting Centennial to five.