Leopards keep Eagles grounded

September 20, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

SMITHSBURG - In Monday night's matchup of two relatively young boys soccer squads, Smithsburg took a step forward and kept No. 9 Hedgesville reeling after the Eagles' 3-0 start.

Sophomore David Kurz scored his first goal of the year off a Ryan Keller cross in the 54th minute, and Mark Vomend's brilliant left-footed laser from 25 yards out in the 77th minute gave the Leopards an insurance goal in a 2-0 victory over Hedgesville, Smithsburg's first over the Eagles in four years.

Hedgesville (3-5) has lost five straight since its fast start, and this one stung after the Eagles dominated the opening minutes, creating several good opportunities on offense but failing to convert.


"That first 10 minutes was scary," Smithsburg coach Paul Newman said. "We made a change last week to play a more marking style of defense. It took us a while to get organized."

The best opportunity for either team in the first half came on an indirect penalty kick by the Eagles inside the Leopards' 18-yard box in the 32nd minute. But Eli Griffin's shot was turned away, and Smithsburg cleared the ball out.

The Leopards (2-3-1) did a better job defensively in the second half, seldom allowing a Hedgesville striker to run downfield without someone on his hip. Finally, after making a nice play defensively and working a give-and-go with Brian Kiel, Keller found himself off to the races along the right sideline.

Keller made a 40-yard run deep into the Eagles' half of the field, did a stop-and-go to beat a defender and found the streaking Kurz sprinting toward the far post.

"I just saw the open gap and David running to the goal, so I made the pass hoping he'd get it," Keller said."

Kurz one-timed the ground-ball cross past Eagles keeper Adam Eifert into the top right corner for the lead.

"I was just really excited because he sent me a great ball," Kurz said. "All I had to do was put it away. That was huge. We knew we were dominating, but we hadn't put any (goals) away. That was such a huge morale boost."

"We've been having trouble scoring goals because we haven't made that last pass," Newman said. "It was nice to see that last pass happen tonight."

For Hedgesville coach Chris Ruest, it was a case of inexperience being costly.

"We made one real mistake in our marking, and that was on our first goal, and it was made by a sophomore and a freshman," Ruest said. "We're still learning."

After both teams made several offensive forays down the stretch, Vomend put the game away in abrupt and stunning fashion.

Quickly pouncing on a free ball slightly to the right of the goal, Vomend unleashed a rocket that split two charging Eagles and left Eifert with no chance as it zipped past him into the top-left corner of the goal for his fifth score of the season.

"He's got a lot of talent," Newman said. "If we could figure out a way to get him the ball in front of the goal, he'd have a lot more goals."

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