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Bulldogs bring high-powered offense to final four

November 04, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

The Woodrow Wilson boys soccer team will have its hands full with Martinsburg senior forward Nick Benavides.

When the teams meet in the West Virginia state semifinals Friday in Beckley, that's almost a certainty.

Benavides, a leading candidate for West Virginia Player of the Year, is the Tri-State's leader in points (90) and points per game (4.74) with his 31 goals and 28 assists.

"It's real hard to take Nick out of his game. It takes two defenders, and a lot of times that doesn't work," Martinsburg coach Greg Miller said. "Against Bridgeport (which the Bulldogs beat 4-0 in the Region II final), he was taking on three defenders and still coming out with the ball. He's just a phenomenal player.

"But for him to be an exceptional forward, he has to have the midfielders get him the ball. And the midfielders have to get the ball from the defenders. It's a team game."

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As a team, Martinsburg (20-1-1), gunning for its first state title in boys soccer, has outscored opponents 110-23 this year, while posting nine shutouts, including its last three playoff games.

Perhaps no Bulldog personifies the team more than senior Joey Borror, Martinsburg's leading goal scorer last season. Midway through this season, Borror took one for the team, making the switch from forward to defender.

"He's sacrificed a lot," Benavides said. "Not too many people would do that."

The Bulldogs, however, seem stronger because of the move.

"Joey's added a lot of leadership and insurance. He's the team leader back there," Miller said. "He's not that big but his play is big. He's extremely fast and has the skills and the knowledge of the game. When he takes the ball away, it's tough to get it back from him."

Because he's working to get it to Martinsburg's high-powered offense. Forward Trent Reid has 28 goals and 19 assists, while midfielders Adam Polinik and Will Rouse have combined for 28 goals and 30 assists.

Woodrow Wilson (18-2) should have its hands full with them as well.

"The defense on the other team is really going to have to be on its toes, because we're going to take it to them," Miller said. "They've got a good forward and a good midfielder, but we have a little more power on offense than they have on defense."

Miller's offensive strategy is simple: "To spread it out and open it up for Polinik, Rouse, Trent and Nicky."

His defensive strategy: "They're going to have shadows. We're going to play them tight. It's going to be a battle."

Game time is 11 a.m., following Brooke (18-2-2) vs. Parkersburg (20-2-1) in the other semifinal at 9.

The championship game is Saturday morning at 11.

"It's going to be a big weekend," Miller said. "We're psyched. We're ready, mentally and physically. We've got the heart and the ability to win, that's for sure."

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