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Knights win title

October 24, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

WILLIAMSPORT - On the sidelines before Friday night's game, the gear bags of the Middletown girls soccer team were lined up in a precise, tidy row.

The No. 2 Knights then went out and kept up appearances, using a precision passing game and perfectly timed runs by striker Anne Rieser to defeat No. 4 Williamsport 4-0 and take the Monocacy Valley Athletic League title.

"We always play at the angles - get the ball toward the flags," Middletown coach John Miller said. "And Anne's a natural left-footer, which is nice."

Armed with a 1-0 lead, Rieser's clean runs threw the game into disarray. In the 23rd minute, she flew down the left side and had an angle on goal, but sent a shot just wide. Undaunted, she tried the same play in the 31st minute - but with a sharper angle. This time it worked to put the Knights (11-1, 9-0 MVAL) up, 2-0.

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"We haven't gone up against an Anne Reiser all season," Williamsport head coach John Weimer said. "She can control you or take the ball down the line. And we didn't adjust at all."

Five minutes later, Rieser broke free again and was hauled down in the penalty box by the Wildcats' Liz Smigelski. Heather Rudisill converted the penalty kick for a 3-0 advantage.

"We've come from behind several times this year," Weimer said. "But after the penalty kick was when we might have hung our heads a little bit."

The goal put a screeching halt on what little momentum Williamsport (11-1-1, 7-1-1) had left. The Wildcats came out strong, putting seven shots on keeper Anna Halse-Stumberg in the first 18 minutes. But in their zest to get to the net, they were also caught offsides seven times.

Both were direct results of Middletown's flat defensive backfield, a formation put in by Miller to help out Halse-Stumberg, who is just a sophomore.

"We did a nice job putting a lot of pressure on," Miller said. "They got a couple of opportunities, but with the defense we play, it's to be expected. ... We've got some intelligent backs, and we've used that asset."

It was a welcome sight for Miller, whose team suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday against Thomas Johnson.

"We lost some intensity in the second half against TJ," Miller said. "We wanted to maintain our intensity the whole game tonight. The girls came out with a goal and a focus."

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