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Midnight strikes on Hubs' Cinderella season

November 09, 2005|by CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

Rick Aleshire would probably have preferred just about any scenario to the one that played out Tuesday night.

His North Hagerstown girls soccer team ended its most successful season ever with a heartbreaking loss to the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.

Middletown rode an Aimee Houck goal and a stout defense to a berth in the Maryland Class 2A state semifinals - and an opportunity to defend its state title - with a 1-0 victory.

"The kids seem to rise to the occasion and feel the importance of each and every game when the playoffs come," said Knights coach Heather Kline.

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The next important game will the a state semifinal match against East champion Parkview on either Friday or Saturday at a site and time yet to be determined.

Despite playing much of the first half near its own goal, Middletown (10-7-1) managed the game's only score in the 30th minute when Houck perfectly placed a shot above the outstretched hands of Hubs keeper Heather McCleaf and the crossbar.

"It was on a throw in," said Kline. "Aimee Houck took the ball off her chest, stayed composed and put it into the net. She stayed composed. Most of the time a player will rush to get that shot off."

The goal seemed to sap much of the emotion from the Hubs (14-3).

"We played with a lot of energy for the first 25 or 30 minutes," said Aleshire. "Then it just kind of quit. (Middletown) stepped up the tempo and we didn't come up with them."

"You could feel (the Hubs') energy," said Kline. "You could feel how much they wanted to win this game."

The Hubs had several opportunities to tie the match, but Middletown's tandem of keepers - Sarah Hess and Rachelle Buhrman - and an aggressive defense recorded the shutout.

"One goal is not a very secure lead and I know Coach Kline was thinking the same thing," said Aleshire. "If we get one in the net, anything can happen. We just didn't do it."

A continuous rain that muddied the field prior to the start threw an unexpected wrinkle into the match.

"It got so cold," said Houck. "I think we lost some of our peppiness because of the rain, but it affected both teams the same."

McCleaf made saves on five of the Knights' six shots on goal. The Middletown keepers combined to save three shots.

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