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Soccer standings need doubletake

September 20, 2000

Soccer standings need doubletake



Yes, that is Middletown on the bottom of the MVAL boys standings. Yes, that's Walkersville on top of the MVAL girls standings. While those are two of the more noticeable surprises early in the season, the new millennium has provided a new take on Tri-State soccer.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> The St. Maria Goretti boys turned a bunch of near-misses into a win against Smithsburg Saturday, ending a five-game losing streak to open the season.

"They needed one of those," coach Marty Wills said. "They've been playing well and just needed a break."

Ben Hood and David Savino have carried the offense, scoring every goal but one in the first six games, but it hadn't been enough in a pair of one-goal losses to No. 1 Thomas Johnson and No. 2 Chambersburg.

For a young team that lost 10 seniors from 1999, the close-but-not-quite approach was frustrating, but helpful.

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"It's already got to start paying dividends," Wills said. "When you play up, you get quicker and smarter. We hoped they wouldn't get discourged and they haven't.

"Some say it's a rebuilding year, but it's a coaching year. It's my job to get them up to speed and they're holding up their end of the bargain."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Its landmark win against Middletown may be dampered by a 5-0 loss to No. 4 Greencastle, but No. 7 Catoctin finally found the corner against the MVAL powerhouse Knights.

"That was close the whole way ... it's the first time in many a year that we've beaten them," first-year coach Jack Bentley said. "I got a lot of phone calls afterward from parents and coaches just congratulating us."

Catoctin's two wins are one more than last season, and it's barely mid-September. Maybe a final four bid is slightly out of reach - the Cougars are in the same bracket as two-time state champ Oakland Mills - but it has to be a goal.

"I told them from the beginning that the goal has to be to win states," Bentley said. "Maybe it's not realistic, I don't know. But with Middletown, now we know we can beat the upper teams. Hopefully, that will continue."

Catoctin gets another chance at a top team Friday in the Frederick County Tournament; it just happens to be Middletown again.

"Now, they know it's possible,'' Bentley said. "Years before, that attitude wouldn't have been there."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If the Eastern Panhandle wants to send a representative to the West Virginia state semifinals, it will need some good bounces and a couple of upsets along the way. On the boys side, the four schools are a combined 0-4-1 against Bridgeport, University and defending state champ Morgantown - the draw by the Bulldogs against Bridgeport.

For the girls, things are a little more promising. Martinsburg is 2-1 (wins over University and Bridgeport, loss to Morgantown) and Jefferson is 1-0-1 (win vs. Wheeling Catholic, tie vs. Buckhannon-Upshur) against regional competition.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> On the girls half of the MVAL, the No. 6 Lions stand at 6-1, and the loss is to area No. 1 Thomas Johnson. They've knocked off perennial runner-up Williamsport (2-1 last Wednesday) on the road, and start a crucial three-game stretch on Thursday, traveling to No. 7 Catoctin before getting No. 2 Middletown and No. 8 North Hagerstown at home.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In one of the few races that has remained the same, No. 3 Williamsport and No. 6 North could duke it out for the Washington County and MVAL titles in the span of a week again. Both stand atop the standings at 2-0 (Boonsboro and FSK are 1-0), but the Hubs may have the advantage.

North only has to leave the city limits once more before the playoffs - and that's a trip to Clear Spring on Sept. 28.

This week's notebook was compiled by staff writer Dan Spears.

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