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Blazers strength, size overwhelms South

November 04, 1998|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING - Age and experience should be worth at least one point in a big game.

The combination was worth at least that much to Clear Spring in its 3-2 victory over South Hagerstown in the Class 1A West quarterfinal soccer playoffs.

Earlier in the year, the Blazers defeated the Rebels, 3-0. Both teams entered the playoffs, after posting season records below .500, looking for a fresh start.

"This game was a tribute to our seniors," said Clear Spring coach Matt Kinman. "I laid a lot of responsibility on my seniors and they really stepped up. All of the seniors did well but Justin Saloom was the big factor. "

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Saloom took Kinman's challenge to heart. He was a strong presence whenever the ball was in his area or when it was passed to him.

With the first period nearly half over, freshman Chris Everitts took a shot from the left side of the box that caromed off of Rebel goalkeeper Bobby Wilhide. As the ball dribbled to the right of Wilhide, Saloom was there to chip it into the right corner of the net and put the Blazers up 1-0.

Saloom haunted Wilhide again several minutes later as he took the ball from the right corner and boomed a high, 60-foot shot at the goalkeeper. Wilhide managed to get his hands on it, but to his misfortune, the shot had too much power and trickled off his fingertips and into the goal.

With two minutes left in the first half, South got on the scoreboard for the first time against the Blazers this year, courtesy of senior John Schnebly.

Luy Doan took a shot from the left side which bounced off goalkeeper Jeremiah Johnson. Schnebly gathered up the loose ball in the far right corner of the box and unleashed a shot into the left corner of the net to cut Clear Spring's lead to 2-1 at the half.

Both teams seemed less aggressive in the second half. Things changed once South was awarded a free kick in the Blazer end of the field.

Schnebly set up the possible match-tying shot, but as he approached the ball, he quickly sidestepped to make room for junior Chris Mills. Mills booted a line shot that hit the crossbar with a resounding ping. Clear Spring quickly cleared the ball to preserve the lead.

That woke up the Blazers, who came roaring back behind another assist from Everitts to the center of the field where sophomore Justin Michael scored to put Clear Spring back up by two.

But South did not lay down. Mills took a breakaway from midfield with 11 minutes left, fought off two defenders, faked right within 10 feet of the goal and then punched in the final score of the night.

"We knew South was going to be a tough game," said Kinman. "We needed to key on Chris Mills and Matt Michael did a good job of defending him. Even when we had two guys on him, he still scored."

"We were intimidated by their size and strength," said South coach Mike Tesla. "Not that we didn't have our shots. That one off the crossbar really hurt. But Matt Kinman's doing a good job with them. He's developed a nice program and they'll do well."

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