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Leopards advance to semis

November 03, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

The postseason is right up Smithsburg's alley.

With three consecutive Class 1A West region titles and a 2001 state championship, the Leopards' girls soccer team is primed for another extensive run.

Smithsburg made a successful tournament debut, booting Southern Garrett 6-0 on Tuesday in the 1A West quarterfinals. The win gets the Leopards another home date later this week against Northern Garrett, a 3-0 winner over Clear Spring.

With two seniors on the Leopards roster, the underclassmen stepped up to become part of the scorebook. Junior Shannon Fowkes and sophomore Katie Seifarth each scored two goals, while freshman Chelsea Hoover and junior Tara Bywaters all powered shots past Southern Garrett keeper Jessica Petrella.

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Senior Candace Stanford, in her 39th varsity start in goal, posted her 27th shutout, a Smithsburg career record.

Fowkes set the stage with two goals in the first four minutes. Her first came when she sidestepped a Northern defender and scored from the left side. Two minutes later on a pass from Seifarth, Fowkes eluded two Rams defenders for a point-blank goal.

"Getting that kind of lead is always beneficial, but we lost some of our intensity," said coach Bill Fowkes. "We were more crisp linking our passes in the second half than in the first half."

In the 24th minute, Shannon Fowkes raced to an errant ball and took it 40 yards on the dribble before passing off to Courtney Brown, who in turn found Seifarth, who cashed in on her first goal.

Just before the half, Bywaters got open between two defenders from 25 yards out and knocked in a shot over Petrella's head for a 4-0 lead.

Three minutes into the second half, freshman Shelby Layman rebounded her own shot off of Petrella's leg and passed it to the right, where Seifart was anxiously waiting to produce her second goal and ninth of the season.

"The two goals early got us excited. ... Scoring is always excitement," said Seifart. "We worked the ball well and we work it to our abilities."

Hoover made it a half dozen scores for the Leopards with a 15-footer in the 54th minute.

Stanford wasn't challenged much by Southern, and gave credit to the defense for making the shutout possible.

"The season has been like that with our defense," Stanford said. "We're known for our 'D' and that is our key."

Stanford needed to make only four saves out of Southern's five shots, and she also grabbed four balls off Southern throw-ins.

"We tried to control the midfield and then attack from the outside," said Fowkes, who provided valuable playoff experience for a roster that includes seven freshmen.

Smithsburg keeper Kirsten Cacciola was the only player not to see action as Stanford earned the shutout.

"We're a 'we' team," Fowkes said.

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