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Leopards stick it to Rebels, sweep season openers

March 24, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG - Washington County lacrosse kicked off Thursday evening as Smithsburg hosted a doubleheader with South Hagerstown.

The season is new, but the story is not. Experience once again prevailed.

Smithsburg took advantage of its overwhelming experience and chemistry to sweep the doubleheader in impressive fashion, winning the girls game 8-1 and then the boys game, 20-0.

The Leopards girls squad boasts seven seniors compared to zero for South. Some Rebels were seeing their first lacrosse action, while most Leopards have spent years playing together.

"We have a middle school program that really helps the girls play together," said Leopards coach Nancy Bates. "It makes a big difference."

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The difference was evident in the way the Leopards moved the ball against the young Rebels, as well as on the defensive end. Smithsburg outshot South 22-4 and had assists on five of its eight goals.

"We were really trying to work on ball movement and not taking bad shots," Bates said. "I think this team has a lot of potential, but I think the ball was on the ground too much. We need to work on our ground balls."

Leading the team was senior Meaghan Thompson, who scored two goals. On her first goal, Thompson beat her defender for an unassisted score, and on the second took a crossing pass from fellow senior Kristi Schellenberg, who also scored a goal.

"Our seniors have been playing together for six years, so we know each other pretty well," Thompson said.

Joining Thompson with two goals was junior Amanda Startzman. Startzman scored the last goal of the first half to put Smithsburg up 6-0 and capped the win with an unassisted goal with 56 seconds left.

Quinn Pangborn, Meghan McSherry and Amber Ford each added a goal. Lyndsay Bates had two assists, while Cassie Petty and Erin Bergstrom each had one.

Susan Gore, one of the few experienced Rebels, scored the lone goal for South.

The Smithsburg boys followed the same blueprint as its girls with swift ball movement and swarming defense. The only difference was that the result was magnified.

The Leopards held South without a shot on goal. Meanwhile, the Leopards scored on 20 of 28 attempts with 14 coming on assists.

Brad Schaffer and Kevin Schellenberg led the scoring attack with six goals each. Schellenberg assisted on two of Schaffer's goals and Schaffer dished one of his three assists to Schellenberg.

"A lot of it is being unselfish. We have a lot of people that can score and so we try to move the ball as much as we can," Schaffer said. "We've been playing together for a long time and we know how to work with each other."

Smithsburg put the game out of reach early with nine first-period goals. Five more upped the lead to 14-0 at halftime, kicking on the running clock in the second half.

Six Leopards scored the other eight goals.

"We have a bunch of really good seniors and a number of juniors and sophomores that can all score," said Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich. "Tonight (Schaffer and Schellenberg) were the scorers, but we have plenty that can do it."

Smithsburg's scoring barrage started with its fluent ball movement. South's inability to pass hampered its scoring opportunities and resulted in limited possession.

"No question. We have to work on a lot of things, including moving the ball around more and finding openings," said South coach Andrew Crouse. "Something I liked was when (Smithsburg) had a lot of success doing one thing, we took it away. They got three quick shots in the crease, then we took it away. Then they were wrapping around the goal and we worked on that.

"We know we can improve."

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