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A hair-raising win for the Wildcats

October 29, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Ben Jordan and Tyler Cannon had freshly shaved heads. Chris Ciccarelli was sporting corn rows.

If the Herald-Mail top-ranked Williamsport boys soccer team continues to play like it did in the second half Tuesday, Wildcats mothers beware: Your sons' hairdos aren't safe.

Second-seeded Williamsport erupted for five second-half goals in a 6-0 rout of seventh-seeded and two-time defending region champ Smithsburg in the Maryland Class 1A West quarterfinals.

The Wildcats will host third-seeded Boonsboro - a 1-0 winner over Allegany Tuesday - in a semifinal matchup on Saturday.

"At first I had a mullet, but my mom made me shave it. We're just doing stuff with our hair to promote a little unity and have a little fun," said Wildcats senior forward Ben Jordan, who had three goals and an assist in the second half. "We're going to try to get everyone to shave it by states."

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But don't think the MVAL Antietam champ Wildcats (13-2) were getting too far ahead of themselves on Tuesday. Their combined 0-2 record from the past two years' playoffs - both 1-0 losses following MVAL-championship regular seasons - was still fresh in their minds.

"We've been thinking about this first playoff game since last year," Williamsport coach Stan Stouffer said. "It's been disappointing. You play a great season and come out and can't even generate any goals."

That wasn't a problem this time, at least not after halftime.

Williamsport, which led 1-0 at the break on Phil Jordan's header, scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Josh Bowers made it 2-0, poking Ben Jordan's cross past keeper Russell Hoyt, and then 3-0, punching in teammate Cannon's free-kick deflection off Hoyt.

"We were only up, 1-0. We were letting them hang in, and Coach gave us a speech," Bowers said. "We just came out and passed the ball better in the second half."

Ben Jordan rounded out the scoring with his hat trick - scoring from 5 yards out on a loose ball, punching in his own deflection off Hoyt following a beautiful through-ball pass from Cannon and heading in Rhet Troxell's cross - all in a 14-minute span.

"We got the monkey off our back. We had to do it," Stouffer said. "We weren't trying to run up the score. We just told them at halftime, 'You're not playing Wildcat soccer.' They came out and got the second goal, and that gave them a lot of confidence."

Williamsport outshot the Leopards 11-1 in the second half and 21-5 for the game. Wildcats starting keeper Jeremy Draper made four saves, while Matt Sweigart had one in the combined shutout.

"I have to give credit to Jeremy Draper," Ben Jordan said. "He and the four backs played very well and kept us in the game and gave us time to get our offense rolling."

For the Leopards (7-8), it'll be their first season without a trip to the state final four in coach Paul Newman's three years at the helm.

"I knew it was going to be a tough draw," Newman said. "I really think, if we could have gotten past Williamsport, we could have gone back to play in the regional finals.

"They're just a heck of a soccer team. They just came out harder than we did in the second half. They scored the first goal of the second half and that took the heart out of us."

And maybe some more hair from the Wildcats.

"The tough one will be Troxell," Ben Jordan said, laughing. "He likes his hair."

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