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Leopards claim sixth straight 1A West title

November 08, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

SMITHSBURG - Trying to pry the Maryland Class 1A West championship from the Smithsburg girls soccer team is akin to trying to blow up mortar without a detonator.

Beall was the team trying to detonate Smithsburg, but couldn't activate the button and the Leopards walked off their field with their sixth straight region crown on Tuesday night with a 1-0 victory over the Mountaineers.

Smithsburg (15-3) will now focus on defending its state championship, beginning Monday against Sparrows Point or Poolesville at Broadneck High School at a time to be announced.

"At the beginning of the year, we set as our first goal to win the region," said Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes. "But we thought we had experience returning that could carry us on."

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Smithsburg outplayed Beall on both ends of the field and its defense was the difference.

The only goal of the game came at the beginning of the 39th minute.

Katie Seifarth's throw-in went to Chelsea Hoover about 20 yards to the left of Beall keeper Jenna Delaney. Hoover passed quickly to Shelby Layman, who dropped to the ball and, on a quick turn from about 15 yards, whizzed a shot past Delaney.

"(Beall) is a tough team and their keeper was tough so you had to find good placement to shoot," said Layman, who recorded her team-leading 19th goal.

Except for a few anxious moments in the middle of the first half, Smithsburg controlled the flow.

Beall (13-3-1), which had its 13-game win streak snapped, had its only serious threat in the 20th minute when Laura Connor beat Smithsburg's Jessica Keyser by a half-step on a corner move to the 18-yard box.

Smithsburg keeper Kirsten Cacciola stepped up to defend Connor's shot successfully while taking a shot to the thigh.

"That was a close call early and Kirsten made a great stop," said Fowkes.

"(Connor) got her body into my thigh and it hurt but I tried to put it out of my mind," said Cacciola.

She didn't have to do much work after that save. It was one of only two she made as the Smithsburg defense allowed the Mountaineers to get off four shots, and only one in the second half.

"We knew (Beall) had a good keeper and they basically play defense," said Fowkes. "They hope you make a mistake, but we didn't make too many tonight."

If the Leopards were at fault for anything, it was a lack of cashing in on scoring opportunities.

Smithsburg unleashed 19 shots and forced Delaney to make 10 saves, most at point-blank range. In the first 14 minutes, the Leopards had four solid attempts, and Layman had three close calls early in the second half.

"We just couldn't finish our shots and get them in the net," said Fowkes. "But I thought our depth really helped a lot in the midfield with fresh legs."

In the six-year region title streak, Smithsburg has victimized Beall three times, including the last two years.

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