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The nose for news picks up pleasant scent

September 29, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Every time I hear the phrase, "You can throw out the records when these teams play each other," I usually roll my eyes.

When I hear that phrase, I know what it really means is, "These two teams stink!"

Though most of us in the business of covering sports do our best to do our best no matter what game it is we cover - whether a game between two undefeated, top-notch teams or two cellar-dwellars - the truth is, all of us prefer to be going to the former type of game than the latter.

So I'll admit that I wasn't exactly looking forward to covering Tuesday's Clear Spring-South Hagerstown girls soccer game. Should I have felt that way?

Probably not.

Did I go there prepared to do my job and do it well?

Absolutely. Stinkfest or not, there's a good story in every game.

Therein lies the rub.

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It wasn't a stinkfest at all.

It was one of the most competitive, hard-fought, truly compelling sporting events I've been to.

Here's Clear Spring, a team that's endured significant off-field turmoil, playing a varsity schedule with a team filled with mostly JV players.

And what do the Blazers show me?

Two fantastic goals, both off perfectly executed crossing passes to find open teammates in front of the goal. A whole lot of hustle, grit and determination. A lot of everything sports is supposed to be about.

And here's South Hagerstown, an 0-5 team coming in that had been outscored 21-3, down 2-0 to this bunch of inspired Blazers at halftime.

And what do the Rebels show me in the face of that adversity? Only the ability to refocus, kick their game into another gear, get after it, keep after it, and grind out a 2-2 tie.

It would have been a lot easier for South to pack it in and lose by three or four goals, but to their credit, the Rebels fought back.

As to the level of soccer played? I'm not going to kid anyone, it wasn't the thing of beauty that, say, a North Hagerstown-Smithsburg clash can become. That being said, I witnessed several nice one-two touches, several quality tackles by defenders, some well-executed flick-on headers and other fancy one-on-one ballhandling moves.

As I was leaving School Stadium, what for me was a stunning thought entered my mind:

I really enjoyed that game.

I was expecting to see two teams going through the motions and playing as if the match didn't matter much. Instead I saw two teams giving it everything they had and, as the saying goes, leaving it all on the field.

I don't know how many wins these two teams will have combined at the end of the season. It probably won't be many. But I know this: I may not see another game this year where every athlete involved gives that much effort.

That's worth a round of applause.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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