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Shinham's kick moves Leopards into state semis

November 05, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

FROSTBURG, Md. - After 100 minutes of evenly applied pressure, the cooker was ready to blow Tuesday night at Beall High School.

After two regulation halves and two overtime periods of scoreless girls soccer, the Maryland Class 1A West final between second-seeded and two-time defending region champ Smithsburg and top-seeded Beall came down to penalty kicks.

Still, Smithsburg senior midfielder Sarah Shinham wasn't fazed, not even after the PKs were even at 3-3 after each team had its five attempts from 12 yards out.

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"I wasn't nervous at all," Shinham said. "I told Coach, 'Write me down, it's going in.'"

Shinham followed Beall sixth-shooter Amy Williams' wide-right attempt with perhaps the biggest goal of her career, making good on her word by punching the ball between goalkeeper Kacey Kahl and the right post, as the Leopards won the shootout 4-3 to advance to the state semifinals.

"That was just two very good soccer teams that gave everything they had,"

Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said. "We talk about winning battles, but we won the war tonight.

"Winning the region championship has been our goal all year, because that's how you get to states. You don't get there by winning the county or by winning the conference."

Smithsburg (17-1), which won the Washington County crown before being denied the MVAL Antietam title by North Hagerstown, didn't give an inch against the equally stingy Mountaineers (12-1-1).

The numbers from each side were practically even through the second overtime. Beall had 14 shots to Smithsburg's 13, while each team had five corner kicks. Kahl made eight saves for the Mountaineers, who only allowed two goals all season, while Candace Stanford had nine for the Leopards, who pitched their 13th and fourth straight shutout.

Practice was the only thing that had the typically high-scoring Leopards ready for Tuesday night's ending.

"We practice penalty kicks every day," Stanford said, "because we figured it could come down to penalty kicks against Beall because they're such a good team."

Through the third rotation of PKs, the shootout was knotted at 2-2. Rachel Armstrong and Abby Snyder connected on the first and third attempts for Beall, which went first, and Shannon Fowkes and Cara Jordan scored on the Leopards' first two attempts, with each goalie recording a save.

"I just focused and prayed and concentrated the whole time," Stanford said. "I had to get it done for my team."

Emily Livingston gave Beall a 3-2 edge, and Emily Burger got it right back for Smithsburg.

Both teams then added to the drama by misfiring on their fifth shots.

Ashley Swarner's attempt sailed over the crossbar, while Courtney Kern's potential walkoff game-winner banged off it.

After Williams missed, the stage was set for Shinham.

"I just knew I had to have it for my team," Shinham said. "It was a tough game. They gave us a run for our money, but we held together."

Smithsburg will take on the North region champ, either Loch Raven or Sparrows Point, in the semifinals, tentatively set for 5:30 p.m. Friday at Arundel High School.

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