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Leopards' title hopes gone with the wind

November 14, 2004|by RYAN ALLEN/Staff Writer

COLUMBIA, Md. - Tuscarora girls soccer coach Mark Wolcott called Saturday afternoon's Maryland Class 1A state semifinal match against Smithsburg "a tale of two games."

With a brisk wind at its back in the first half, Tuscarora dominated play and scored three goals.

The second half was nearly a complete reversal, as the Leopards used the helping wind to control the ball and score twice.

The rally fell short, however, and the Titans held on for a 3-2 victory over Smithsburg to advance to the state championship game in their first season as a varsity program.

"Whoever had the wind had a decisive advantage," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes. "Both teams took advantage of it, except they scored one more goal in their half."

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Smithsburg had a chance to tie the game when it was awarded an indirect kick in the Tuscarora box in stoppage time, but freshman goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins blocked two deflected shots just seconds before the final buzzer sounded.

"We had a chance and that's all you can ask for when you fall behind 3-0," said Fowkes.

Simpkins made the game's first big play four minutes in when she stopped a breakaway shot by Shelby Layman.

"Emmy is a very special keeper," Wolcott said. "That's a name people are going to hear about for a long time."

The Leopards tested Simpkins only twice more in the first half, while the Titans peppered 10 shots at Smithsburg goalkeeper Candace Stanford in the first 40 minutes.

Courtney Yee scored the first Tuscarora goal from the top of the box in the 11th minute.

Eight minutes later, Chrissy Conrad sent a shot towards goal from right of the box that went through the hands of Simpkins to Natalie Salovich, who put the ball into the empty net for a 2-0 lead.

Kristin Remsburg scored the third Tuscarora goal in the 33rd minute when she sailed a long-range shot into the top left corner of the goal.

Smithsburg gained the momentum in the second half, out-shooting the Titans, 8-4.

"We talked at halftime about digging deeper and doing whatever it takes and winning the final 40 minutes," said Fowkes.

In the 56th minute, Katie Seifarth put the Leopards on the board after a centering pass by Shannon Fowkes.

Smithsburg cut the lead to 3-2 when Emily Burger scored on a penalty kick after Fowkes was taken down in the Tuscarora box.

Wolcott said he thought his team lost its composure and the game changed early in the second half when an injury to Conrad caused a stoppage of play.

"After that moment, we lost our intensity and let a very good team back into the game," he said. "We just didn't handle that break very well. ... I'm concerned about our maturity, but we still held on to win."

While not as young as the Titans, Smithsburg also boasts a young team - with only two seniors - leaving Fowkes optimistic after the game.

"It's been a great season," he said. "We started 0-3 and a lot of people were writing us off, but the girls regrouped. We'll miss our seniors, but the good thing is we have 20 of 22 players coming back."

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