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Ross, Hubs tie up Williamsport

September 06, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

North Hagerstown goalkeeper Erin Ross plays soccer with a bad case of claustrophobia. The Hubs hope it's an incurable disease.

Ross' perfectly timed forays out of the net stunted a determined Williamsport attack all Saturday afternoon, and the Hubs survived a shot off the crossbar in overtime for a 1-1 tie in the season and MVAL opener for both teams.

"We couldn't have had a better opening game," North coach Kimberly O'Kane said. "There were some moments, but, whew, what good soccer."

Ross was the best on a good day. Leaving the net early and often, she blunted several Wildcats breakaways. Her best effort came in the 75th minute, when Williamsport took advantage of a ball off the referee. Emily Shirk took off with the loose ball and was one-on-one with Ross, who smothered the ball off Shirk's foot.

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"She's very confident, and she has the right to be," O'Kane said of Ross, who made 13 saves, including 10 in the second half and overtime. "She does a good job of knowing when to get off the line, and has that ability to recoup."

Skyler Smiles had the Wildcats' other best chance, but a diving Ross was up to the challenge in the 26th minute.

"She had good reactions," Williamsport coach John Weimer said. "She knew just when to go, and when to stay. And their defense kept us from penetrating most of the time."

But Williamsport kept pounding away at the net, ending with 24 shots. And for all the good looks the Wildcats had, the one goal they scored was on a covered play.

In the 48th minute, Shannon Smiles received a corner kick about 15 yards right of the net. Rushed by an oncoming defender, she swung under the ball and sent it high in the air, where the wind pushed the ball over Ross' head for the tying goal.

North had taken the lead in the 16th minute, when Jackie Salvagno put a feed off the left side from Lindsay Smith and Meagan Verdeyen past keeper Nicole Leisinger.

"We've worked hard right from the start in practice," O'Kane said. "The girls have been challenging each other a lot and it's showing. We proved today we have a contender."

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