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Leopards advance into 1A West final

November 01, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Everyone associated with the Smithsburg girls soccer team will say the Leopards have just been taking it one game at a time this season.

While that might be true, there's no getting around the fact that the Leopards have had the Maryland Class 1A state finals circled on their calendars for some time now.

"There's been such a precedent set," said Smithsburg senior forward Kristen Poffenberger, following the Leopards' 3-0 win over Boonsboro in the West regional semifinals Friday night. "(Assistant coach Joe Burger) said, 'Aug. 15, we ran. Aug. 16, we started talking about the state finals.'"

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The state finals are where Smithsburg has ended its season each of the last two years, sharing the state crown with Loch Raven in 2001 and finishing runner-up to Poolesville in '02.

The second-seeded Leopards will play for their third straight regional title and trip to the state final four on the road Tuesday against top-seeded and unbeaten Beall, a 2-0 winner over Clear Spring in Friday's other semifinal.

"We just keep trying to win the battles. Tuesday is just another battle," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "But that's what we play for at Smithsburg, for a regional championship."

First, they had to get through sixth-seeded Boonsboro (7-8) and the Warriors' rough-and-muddy field in the semis.

Smithsburg (16-1) went up for good in the fourth minute of the game, as Katie Seifarth turned Abby Rinehart's through-ball pass into a 1-0 lead with a sliding shot.

Shannon Fowkes put the Leopards up 2-0 in the 27th minute, taking Cara Jordan's overlap pass and bending and blazing around the Boonsboro defense for the score.

"We were told to come out early and nail them, and we tried," Poffenberger said. "But we were looking for a little more in the first half."

She added more padding midway through the second, completing the scoring with a rocket shot after catching up with Courtney Brown's through-ball delivery.

"We had hoped we could do a little better than that. We had some good offensive pushes," Boonsboro coach John Burtner said. "They have a couple quick girls and we couldn't wrap them up like we hoped we could, but we gave it our best shot."

Smithsburg outshot Boonsboro 17-10, while Leopards keeper Candace Stanford made seven saves for her 12th shutout of the year.

"We're taking it one game at a time," Stanford said. "States has been our focus all season, but we're just taking it one game at time and hoping to get there, taking combinations, just doing everything at practice we need to do and getting it done every time."

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