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How the West was won again

November 10, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg has enjoyed so much success in girls soccer this century, the town has become recognized as the last checkpoint before the Class 1A state tournament.

The Leopards followed the road often traveled on Tuesday, but took a bypass to get to that coveted final destination.

Smithsburg won its fourth straight West region title - and fourth straight trip to soccer's final four - by taking the scenic route along the outside of the field leading to a pair of Shannon Fowkes goals and a 2-0 victory over Williamsport and its stout defense.

"Every year it gets a little sweeter," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes of the return to states. "These girls, from Day One, weren't going to be happy if we didn't get there again."

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Smithsburg will take its 10-game winning streak into the state semifinals Friday when it faces South champ Tuscarora at 5 p.m. at Long Reach High School. Tuscarora defeated Catoctin 5-0 Tuesday to win its region.

Getting to the final four was a bit of an adventure for the Leopards. It wasn't like Smithsburg didn't have the opportunity to win and win big, it just doesn't have the goals to prove it.

Smithsburg (13-4) kept the ball in the Williamsport zone for most of the match, peppering the goal and Wildcats keeper Catie Vancour almost at will. Vancour turned the Leopards back all but twice while the defense in front of her deflected some attempts and forced Smithsburg to fire wide on others.

"Our defense definitely did a great job," Williamsport coach J.R. Mellott said. "Catie did a great job in there to keep us in the game. She kept us in a lot of games early in the year when our defense wasn't organized. When it's 20 against one, that's tough, but if it is one against one, I'll take Catie Vancour every time."

Vancour tested Smithsburg's will but the Leopards turned to their speed and quickness to get the ball downfield and into a scoring position. After all the glancing blows and stone cold stops, it came down to two Shannon Fowkes shots - both on moves off the goal line and from 10 yards off the wing.

"The Williamsport goalkeeper did a great job against us," Shannon Fowkes said. "We used our speed to our advantage and we are always successful if we use it going down the outside. That way we get where we have players who can frame the net. Playing off the goal line is my strong point.

"The last time we played Williamsport, I scored the only two goals in that game, too. It was like dja vu. But I don't care if I don't score, but I will do whatever it takes to win."

Fowkes' first goal came in the middle of some mass confusion in front of the Williamsport net. The ball worked through across the goal mouth and Fowkes took advantage of Vancour's need to react to pop it in the center of the net in the 24th minute to give the Leopards a 1-0 halftime lead.

"(Vancour) played an awesome game," Bill Fowkes said. "She was in good position all night. Speed has been our asset all year and when we get the ball to the outside on the flank and we usually do real well."

Smithsburg finished its sixth consecutive shutout with the help of Shannon Fowkes' second goal in the 53rd minute, this time off a wide-open shot that caught Vancour out of position.

"Smithsburg is so quick and fast," Mellott said. "They had some great passing and we couldn't sustain anything because we were missing our passes. You know that if you are going to win the West region, you have to come through Smithsburg. We came in here as the No. 9 seed and played for the region title. I'm super proud of these girls."

For Smithsburg, it will be its fourth straight trip to the final four, but the Leopards haven't fared well the last two times,

Vancour tested Smithsburg's will but the Leopards turned to their speed and quickness to get the ball downfield and into a scoring position. After all the glancing blows and stone cold stops, it came down to two Shannon Fowkes shots - both on moves off the goal line and from 10 yards off the wing.

"The Williamsport goalkeeper did a great job against us," Shannon Fowkes said. "We used our speed to our advantage and we are always successful if we use it going down the outside. That way we get where we have players who can frame the net. Playing off the goal line is my strong point.

"The last time we played Williamsport, I scored the only two goals in that game, too. It was like dja vu. But I don't care if I don't score, but I will do whatever it takes to win."

Fowkes' first goal came in the middle of some mass confusion in front of the Williamsport net. The ball worked through across the goal mouth and Fowkes took advantage of Vancour's need to react to pop it in the center of the net in the 24th minute to give the Leopards a 1-0 halftime lead.

"(Vancour) played an awesome game," Bill Fowkes said. "She was in good position all night. Speed has been our asset all year and when we get the ball to the outside on the flank and we usually do real well."

Smithsburg finished its sixth consecutive shutout with the help of Shannon Fowkes' second goal in the 53rd minute, this time off a wide-open shot that caught Vancour out of position.

"Smithsburg is so quick and fast," Mellott said. "They had some great passing and we couldn't sustain anything because we were missing our passes. You know that if you are going to win the West region, you have to come through Smithsburg. We came in here as the No. 9 seed and played for the region title. I'm super proud of these girls."

For Smithsburg, it will be its fourth straight trip to the final four, but the Leopards haven't fared well the last two times, struggling on the artificial turf playing surface at UMBC.

"It hasn't worked out for us so well the last couple of times," Shannon Fowkes said. "Maybe the third time will be the charm."struggling on the artificial turf playing surface at UMBC."

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