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Leopards give boot to Blazers

October 01, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - If Smithsburg boys soccer coach Paul Newman had one wish Tuesday night, it was for his slumping Leopards to score the first goal against Clear Spring.

Wish granted.

Gerry Spessard's penalty-shot goal in the 17th minute gave Smithsburg a lead it would not relinquish as the Leopards snapped a three-game losing streak as well as the Blazers' three-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory in the MVAL Antietam Conference.

"That really allowed our guys to settle into their game," Newman said. "We've fallen behind the last couple games and lost our focus, and that goal was really important to us."

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Spessard was awarded the opportunity after the referee called a shove in the box as Chad Rupert's corner kick floated in. Spessard calmly converted the penalty with a rolling shot to the right of Clear Spring keeper Bryce Sigler.

"Any time you give up the first goal on a penalty kick, it's tough for kids to bounce back because you have to score two goals," Blazers coach Sid Shupp said.

Smithsburg (5-4) took a 1-0 lead into halftime and made it 2-0 in the 49th minute when Spessard's high header into the box was misplayed by Sigler. The ball went off Sigler's hands and over his head, and Mitchell Race cleaned up the mess from point-blank range.

Clear Spring (6-2) cut the deficit to one on Drew Holler's breakaway down the middle following a beautiful feed from midfielder Brad Turner. Holler put the goal away to the right of sprawling Smithsburg keeper Russell Hoyt.

The Blazers had several other quality scoring opportunities. At the end of the first half, Holler's cross from the left side found Zeb Jacobs near the right post, but Hoyt played it perfectly and was in position for a key save.

"Russell's a real excitable keeper, and when he's on, he's really on," Newman said. "When we needed him to step up big, he did."

In the final 15 minutes, both David Kindle and Jacobs had opportunities, but both rushed their shots and failed to convert.

"We have 11 guys on our team who have either scored a goal or had an assist," Shupp said. "We've been good at finishing, but tonight we had a little trouble and (Smithsburg's) keeper was outstanding."

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