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Leopards shoot out Warriors

November 03, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG - The Smithsburg girls soccer team had plenty of chances to score a goal in regulation and 20 minutes of overtime in Thursday night's Maryland Class 1A West semifinal against Boonsboro.

But the defending state champion Leopards waited for the deciding penalty-kick shootout to finally cash in on the opportunities.

Smithsburg scored on each of its PKs in the shootout and goalie Kirsten Cacciola deflected Boonsboro's last shot to give the Leopards a 4-3 shootout victory, breaking a scoreless tie in regulation and overtime.

"In the beginning, they were going to the left and in my head I was going crazy," said Cacciola, who had three saves. "On the last save I went with my gut and went right."

Cacciola moved to her right and guessed early enough to get both hands on Danielle Daughtridge's shot to send Smithsburg to the region final. The Leopards will play for their sixth straight region title when they host Beall on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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"Once we get into the postseason, we have every player taking four or five penalty kicks a night in practice," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes. "We feel confident that all of our kickers can score."

Boonsboro's Katie Reese and Jamie Bingamen traded goals with Smithsburg's Katie Seifarth and Cara Jordan to knot the shootout at 2-2 after two rounds. Kaite Harne shot to her left to start the third round, but the ball ricocheted off the inside of the goal post and trickled back out into the box.

The Leopards (14-3) took advantage as Gretchen Downey pinned her shot into the back right corner of the net for a 3-2 lead.

"The first miss off the post gave us the advantage," Fowkes said. "It forced them to make the rest of their kicks."

Boonsboro (11-4) rebounded from the miss by going with leading scorer Lauren Hensley, who booted it past Cacciola to even the score at 3-3. But Smithsburg answered once again, this time with Chelsea Hoover, to regain the lead.

Cacciola's save in the last round kept the Leopards from needing to kick a decisive fifth shot.

"It's the worst way to win and the worst way to lose," said Boonsboro coach Kyle Lingg. "The girls left everything on the field and played their hearts out. I can't ask for anything more than that."

The Warriors' defense faced heavy pressure in the first half and escaped several Smithsburg threats. The Leopards had shots sail over the goal, off the crossbar and wide to both sides, but most of the shots were foiled by Boonsboro goalie Annie Meyers, who had nine saves.

Meyers turned away the first Smithsburg shot six minutes into the game when she made a last-second dive near the goal post for the save. Meyers remained alert and became only the second goalie this season to shut out the Leopards.

"Meyers did a tremendous job. If it weren't for her, we probably would have had a 3-0 lead at halftime," Fowkes said.

Smithsburg outshot Boonsboro 11-2 in the first half despite the Warriors' defensive strategy to plug the middle of the field and force the Leopards to the outside. It was the same plan that helped the Warriors pull off a 3-2 upset of the Leopards on Oct. 16.

"We wanted to keep them out of the middle because we know that's their strength," Lingg said. "At halftime, I told them we needed to look back at what we did when we beat them, and use that motivation in the second half."

The game was more evenly played after halftime and Smithsburg held just a 3-1 shot advantage.

Smithsburg had three corner kicks in the two 10-minute, sudden-death overtimes. Seifarth nearly headed one of the corners by Jordan into the goal, but it went just high and off the goal post.

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