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Smithsburg soccer team reaches goal

Leopards win state title

Leopards win state title

November 20, 2005|By DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

BALTIMORE - In sports, as in life, trials and tribulations often make the triumphs sweeter.

Smithsburg seniors Shannon Fowkes, Courtney Brown, Emily Burger and Tara Bywaters can testify to the truth in that statement.

The "Fantastic Four" of the Leopards girls soccer team knew plenty about trials and tribulations entering Saturday afternoon's Maryland Class 1A final against Sparrows Point. As freshmen, they suffered a heart-breaking 1-0 loss in overtime to Poolesville in the 2002 final. Losses in the state semifinals as sophomores and juniors only added to the pain.

On Saturday, at long last, it was their turn to celebrate.

Given a boost by sophomore Shelby Layman's two goals, Fowkes, Brown, Burger and Bywaters finished their stellar high school careers as champions, as Smithsburg took control early and shut out Sparrows Point 2-0 at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

"They're the fantastic four," Leopards coach Bill Fowkes said. "They're incredible athletes and incredible people, and it makes it extra special when one of them is your daughter.

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"The final moments were definitely a lot of joy to see all the time and effort they put in pay off. There's some sadness that we're losing quality seniors, but they're all going on to bigger things and they're all going to be successful."

Shannon Fowkes came back from a knee injury to rejoin the team in midseason and finished her prep career with 63 goals, second-most in team history. She will continue her career on scholarship at Western Carolina University.

"I'm ecstatic. It's almost like surreal that we finally did it," she said. "This was our last shot and we made it happen. It doesn't feel real.

"This is like every senior's dream come true. Compared to the last time we were here (in 2002), this makes it perfect. This makes it complete."

Bywaters was part of Smithsburg's midfield contingent that maintained ball control for most of Saturday's game, while defenders Burger (who will play for Shippensburg next year) and Brown helped the Leopards hold Sparrows Point to six total shots - and zero in the first half.

"It's just amazing," Burger said. "When we came out here as freshmen, our eyes were huge and we were shocked. We made it back and we went out the right way."

"I've been waiting three years to get back here," Brown said. "It's just a great way to go out. I'm happy that we won and sad that it's all over."

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