Hubs' girls, Spartans' boys rolling

October 06, 2006|by ANDREW MASON and DAN KAUFFMAN

Rick Aleshire isn't quite ready to call this year's North Hagerstown girls soccer team the best he's coached in his eight years with the Hubs, but there's no denying North is off to its best start.

The No. 1 Hubs beat Clear Spring 6-1 on Thursday to improve to 9-0 - one victory better than the 2001 Hubs, who went 8-0 before dropping three straight and finishing at 12-5.

"I think this team is just as good as that 8-0 year and maybe a little technically better than that team," Aleshire said. "We've got five or six players who are a threat to score."

Sophomore forwards Maria Borland, Stephanie Borland and Alluka Ogle-Moore have combined for 33 goals, while senior midfielder Courtney Whorten has 11. North, which starts only three seniors, has outscored its opponents, 59-5.


"I didn't think we'd be 9-0. But looking at it from last year, I knew we had a shot to be a pretty good team," said Aleshire, whose Hubs advanced to the Maryland 2A West final for the first time last year. "I thought we'd be down a little experience-wise, but these girls have stepped it up and played big."

For now, the winning streak has no end in sight.

"I don't like looking too far ahead. Most coaches don't," Aleshire said. "We're just going to enjoy the run for as long as we can.

"We know we're No. 1, and everybody wants to beat No. 1. It's going to get harder and harder. We just need to keep working hard."

While senior defender Cara Thompson - a three-time All-Area first-teamer - recently returned from an injury, the Hubs have lost sophomore goalie Caroline Kreiger - the area's leading keeper - to mononucleosis. But freshman keeper Lindsey Irving has filled in admirably, allowing four goals in three games.

The Hubs have six games left in the regular season - including a rematch with No. 2 Smithsburg on Oct. 25 that likely will decide the MVAL Antietam title - before the region tournament begins.

North's school record for wins is 15, set by 2003's 15-2 team.

"I think we're going to do fine until we get (to the region tourney)," Aleshire said. "Then, it's going to be if we're experienced enough to go ahead and do it.

"We should get a pretty good seed, hopefully No. 1 or No. 2 so we can get a few games at home."

Streaking Spartans

McConnellsburg boys soccer coach Wade Mellott has been looking forward to this season for a decade. So far, his optimism has been rewarded in spades.

Led by a group of six seniors - including son Evan Mellott - Wade Mellott and the No. 5 Spartans are soaring. They're 10-1-1 and have their sights set on a Sideling Hill League title and the PIAA District 5-A championship.

"I started coaching the group of kids that are seniors 10 years ago," Wade Mellott said. "They started playing and I started coaching, and I've had them since they were 7 years old. We've played a lot of soccer together and it's just finishing up right now. I told them the very first game, 'I've been waiting 10 years for this season.'"

Evan Mellott is the player at the forefront of McConnellsburg's magic ride. With 20 goals through Wednesday, he is third in the Tri-State area, trailing only 2005 Herald-Mail Player of the Year Treavor Gelsinger (29) and Hedgesville's Rashid Deen (23).

"He has real good ball skills and he's fast," Wade Mellott said. "He's not particularly big but makes up for it with speed and determination. (His teammates) try to get him the ball. The rest of the guys know (scoring goals) is his job, and he does."

Four of Wade Mellott's trusted seniors - Corey Campbell, J.J. Grace, Joe Chaferdon and Adam Carr - anchor a defense that has allowed just 13 goals through 12 games, posting three shutouts.

"All my experience is back at the defensive end," Wade Mellott said. "I start from the back and go forward. In my opinion, defense wins ballgames, that's always been my philosophy. We always stack the defense and move forward from there."

McConnellsburg went 14-5-1 in 2005, a year that ended in heartbreak for the Spartans when they fell to Fannett-Metal on penalty kicks in the District 5-A quarterfinals.

"They want another shot at it," Wade Mellott said. "They want to at least get past the first round. ... The Sideling Hill League title is in our sights, but we'd like to win districts, that's the goal. We have a legitimate shot to do well in districts."

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