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Leopards blanked, bounced in soccer semis

November 08, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - In the race to the state championships, the Smithsburg girls soccer team was beaten out of the blocks and unable to make up ground at Howard High School.

Loch Raven scored three first-half goals on the way to a 3-0 win over the Leopards in the Maryland Class 1A state semifinals Friday night.

"I knew they were going to be good, but that's the fastest team we've seen all year," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes, whose squad has won the last three West region titles and played in the last two state finals.

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"Usually we're the ones with the speed, but they matched us and had a little bit more. Top that with their physical play, and we found ourselves in a hole right away."

The North region champ Raiders (14-2-1) went up 1-0 in the 11th minute, as Lauren Askey connected from point-blank range on Danielle Nicholson's perfectly placed cross. Seven minutes later, Nicholson scored on a cross from Jenny Rosenberger. Allie Harris then fired in a loose ball in front of the net to complete the scoring in the 29th minute.

Loch Raven outshot Smithsburg 7-2 in the first half and 5-2 in the scoreless second.

"They came out ready in the first half and, unfortunately, got a couple in," Leopards senior defender Cortney Kerns said. "We stopped them in the second half and held them off. It's just too bad we couldn't do that in the first half.

"But they were good. You have to give them credit."

Sophomore keeper Rachael Wisner made three saves for the Raiders' stingy defense, which has posted shutouts in 15 of its 17 games.

"I told our team earlier this week that nobody is going to score on us," Loch Raven coach Mike Parker said, "so it can either go to penalty kicks or we can score goals."

Apparently, they chose the latter option. The Raiders, who shared the state crown with Smithsburg in 2001 after the teams played to a 0-0 tie, will face East champ Queen Anne's in the title game. Queen Anne's topped South winner Oakland Mills 7-6 in a shootout after their semifinal ended in a 1-1 tie Friday.

"In the second half, we played them straight up," Fowkes said. "We made them earn the trip and they deserved it. ... Our goal will just be to get back here next year and try it all over again."

The Leopards end the season with a 17-2 record and are now 50-7-1 over the last three years.

"It's sad that we lost and really sad for me and all the seniors," said Kerns, a second-team member on the soon-to-be-released all-state list. "But it was a great high school experience."

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