Soccer notes - Church offers no charity

September 13, 2000

Soccer notes - Church offers no charity

It's an obvious reminder of where Lauren Church has been, and a subtle one of where she intends to go.

"It" is the bulky black brace the Smithsburg goalkeeper wears on her left knee. "It" is the result of what she herself called "the worst day of my life."

Just over a year ago, Church tore her anterior cruciate ligament trying to make a play on a breakaway during the Washington County Public Schools Tournament at Williamsport. She crumpled to the ground, her screams heard from the press box.

"I've never had an injury before," Church said. "When I went down, I didn't know what to do. I felt I was letting the team down. It was the worst day of my life."


Church had surgery and had to watch the rest of her junior year go up in smoke. The injury derailed the Leopards, who finished 7-9-1.

Determined to come back for her senior year, Church rehabilitated over the summer, slowly pushing her knee. The brace seems to be a comfort to her, not a crutch. "The brace makes me feel comfortable enough, I can do anything."

"Anything" took the form of three straight shutouts in her first three games back with Smithsburg, all last week. Two came in the very tournament - and one on the very field - where the injury occured.

"The first game, I was more nervous than at any time in my life," Church said. "It's just so amazing. I never thought I'd have three straight shutouts."

Neither did her teammate, junior Kyley Thompson. The two made a bet, and as a result of Church's 1-0 shutout of North Hagerstown on Saturday at Williamsport, look for Thompson to be sporting red hair someday soon.

As for Church, she's back to having fun on the field. She's enjoying life as a key component to Smithsburg's success. Her knee is still healing - Church said the brace could come off at the end of the season.

Then again, as Leopards coach Richard Daughtridge said Saturday: "How do you do better than she's done the last couple of nights?"

Road full of obstacles

There's scheduling a competitive season for yourself, and then there's scheduling above and beyond competitive. Girls No. 1 Thomas Johnson has taken the second road.

Their schedule includes the top 2 teams in the Baltimore metro area (St. Mary's, which beat the Patriots 1-0 last week, and McDonogh, who they played Tuesday night), the No. 6 team (Notre Dame) and the No. 9 team (CMC foe North Carroll). All this to set up a possible rematch with the No. 3 team - River Hill - which knocked them out of the Maryland 3A Tournament last year.

"It's fun competing at a high level. And that's where we are right now," TJ coach Chuck Nichols said before the St. Mary's match. "(Last year) we had injuries, but we were lucky to have those things late. River Hill was the better team (in the semifinals). They were.

"But we want another shot. Of course you want another shot at them, that's just human nature."

He said it

"We're struggling with scoring over here, big time, obviously. ... But it's giving us something to work on."

-Middletown boys coach Bob Sheffler, whose Knights have lost three straight to open the season - all of them by 1-0 scores.

This week's notebook was compiled by Dan Kauffman and Dan Spears.

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