Smithsburg girls - 'It's where you finish'

September 24, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

The Smithsburg girls team might be the biggest surprise of the soccer season thus far.

And unfortunately for the Leopards, it hasn't been an overly pleasant one.

Smithsburg, returning nine starters from last year's 17-2 squad - including junior forward Shannon Fowkes, the 2003 All-Area Co-Player of the Year, and senior keeper Candace Stanford, another All-Area first-teamer - is 2-4.

"It's not where you start," Smithsburg third-year coach Bill Fowkes said. "It's where you finish."

The Leopards know all about strong finishes.

Last year, their season ended in the Maryland Class 1A state semifinals. The previous two seasons, they were in the state finals.

"I think teams rise to the occasion to play us," Bill Fowkes said. "Game in and game out, teams are just gunning to beat Smithsburg because of the success we've had."


But maybe taking a few early-season losses isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"It's kind of woken up the girls," Fowkes said. "When you have success for a long time, you can kind of start taking it for granted. Sometimes you have to get knocked back a little bit to be brought back to reality."

While opening the season against Boonsboro, North Hagerstown and Winters Mill - as the Leopards did - wouldn't be easy for any team, an 0-3 start still was a reality check.

And Hedgesville, a West Virginia state semifinalist last year, paid for it.

The Leopards blanked the Eagles 3-0 at Hedgesville for their first win.

"Beating Hedgesville in their back yard gave us a lot of confidence," Fowkes said.

Since then, they've gone 1-1. Maybe the wins are just that much harder to get these days.

"The level of soccer has stepped up. A lot of teams are more competitive this year, and that's a good thing," Fowkes said. "I've always said that anybody can beat anybody on any given day."

Quick feat

Was it Gatorade, Powerade or Jolt soda?

Whatever Greencastle's Jared Barkdoll drank at halftime during his team's recent game with James Buchanan, it had a kick to it.

JB led 1-0 at the break, before Barkdoll went bananas, scoring four goals in the first nine minutes of the second half. Greencastle won, 5-1.

Weather permitting

The Washington County championship games, originally scheduled for last Saturday, now are set for Monday evening at School Stadium.

Unbeaten Boonsboro takes on Williamsport in the boys final at 5:30, and North Hagerstown and Boonsboro match talents in the girls final at 7:30.

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