Bulldogs back on the right track

October 10, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

Butterflies have nothing on the Bulldogs this fall.

The Martinsburg girls (7-3-1), winners of six straight through Wednesday, are out of the cocoon again.

After reaching the West Virginia state final four for the first time in school history last year, the Bulldogs only had one win through their first five games this season. Maybe even worse, Curtis Keesecker, the team's third-year head coach, stepped down before the season was barely underway.

"He resigned a game in," said Meredith Matczak, a 2001 Shepherd College grad and former Rams player, who made the leap from Keesecker's assistant to his successor. "I don't want to get into the reasons, because I really don't know why."

Martinsburg, with 12 returning varsity players and a brand new goalie, has found its answer on the field, outscoring opponents 25-7 in the six-game streak. Junior Kati Hoeck has led the way with a team-high 10 goals, while senior Natalie Minnich has seven goals and three assists and freshman keeper Morgan Hunley has pitched a pair of shutouts.


"We've been playing good," Matczak said. "We play to win. We want to get to states."

She said the early setbacks could pay some late dividends.

"Early in the season, we played some tough competition," Matczak said. "Our first three games (1-1 tie with University and 4-0 and 2-1 losses to Parkersburg South and Morgantown) were against some of the best teams in the state.

"We played well, it was just tough competition, which is what I want them to play. I don't want them to just walk through the season and then be shocked in the postseason."

Any initial shock Matczak may have had with the job change is probably wearing off as well.

"Taking over in the beginning of the season, I wasn't prepared," she said. "I wasn't looking to be a head coach for a while. I was happy to just be an assistant and learn and get my feel for it.

"But this is a good group of girls. They've been playing for a while, and they listen well. Coaching them is a lot of fun."

  • First-year Martinsburg boys coach Greg Miller has also tasted some early success.

    The Bulldogs (9-1-3) were the last unbeaten boys squad in the Tri-State before Wednesday's 2-1 setback to Mercersburg Academy.

  • The Hedgesville girls (6-3-2), winners of four straight, have also been lighting up the Eastern Panhandle.

    Undoubtedly their biggest thrill came with a 2-1 win over Jefferson last Thursday for their first win over the Cougars in Hedgesville's seven-year history of girls soccer.

"I've played Jefferson 15 times and tied them twice, but that was the first time I've ever beaten them," Hedgesville sixth-year coach Sonny Tippett said. "It seems our talent is finally starting to catch up."

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