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Bulldogs win the one that matters

October 22, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Ask Martinsburg's girls soccer team how much its two previous games against Jefferson mattered now.

After failing to score in either of their two regular-season matchups against the Cougars, the Bulldogs struck for two goals in the second quarter, and Martinsburg's defense did just enough to make the lead stand up in a thrilling 2-1 victory in the Region II, Section 4 playoffs Tuesday evening.

"(Jefferson's) a very strong offensive team and they proved it," Bulldogs coach Meredith Matczak said. "They were banging away, and we just had enough. That one shot was in slow motion as it was soaring."

That one shot was a 20-yard rocket from the Cougars' Marin Ping in the 77th minute that beat Bulldogs keeper Morgan Hunley high - too high, as the ball crashed off the crossbar back out to the middle of the 18-yard box, where Martinsburg cleared it. That was the final opportunity for Jefferson.

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"We had that ping off the crossbar," said Jefferson coach Harold Bache, clearly intending no pun. "Two or three inches (lower) and it's a tied game, and who knows?"

Jefferson defeated Martinsburg 4-0 in the first meeting this season, and the teams played to a scoreless tie in the second meeting one week ago.

With the first goal clearly being important, the Cougars missed a golden opportunity 10 minutes in when Melissa Clevenger partially fanned on a shot off a Gabby Carstens' cross from the right, allowing Hunley to make an easy save.

"We had opportunities in the first half to score goals, some golden opportunities, and we didn't take advantage of that," Bache said. "If we could have gotten the early goal, I think we would have dictated the tempo, but that didn't happen."

Instead, Martinsburg got the all-important first goal six minutes into the second quarter when Kati Hoeck pressured a defender into a mistake deep in the right corner. Hoeck's cross just avoided the foot of Cougars keeper Elaine Arabatzis and found the foot of Laurel Bobo, who made no mistake from point-blank range for the lead.

"Kati has such blazing speed, she was aggressive and was able to pressure the other girl into a bad run, and made a perfect cross," Matczak said.

With less than two minutes remaining in the half, Arabatzis misplayed a manageable ball on a hard, low shot at the left post.

The ball trickled over the goal line for a corner kick, which Becky Lovell placed right on the head of Natalie Minnich for a 2-0 lead.

"Becky has some real good touches from the corner," Matczak said. "We haven't seen many good results from corner kicks, but that was one."

Jefferson crept within a goal 12 minutes into the second half on Courtney McCauley's soaring free kick from 30 yards out that beat Hunley high and dropped just under the crossbar.

The Bulldogs, however, pulled together on the defensive end. Though Jefferson outshot Martinsburg 11-6 in the second half, many of those shots were from well beyond the 18-yard box and never had a realistic chance of going in.

"My defense hung in the trenches, and they did what was necessary to get it done," Matczak said.

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