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Blazers defeat Beall to reach state semifinals

November 08, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

FROSTBURG, Md. - The Clear Spring boys soccer team was outshot 16-2, out-cornered 11-5 and spent much of the night defending its goal against Beall in the Maryland Class 1A West region final at Frostburg State University on Tuesday night.

But there's something about the 2006 Blazers that defies statistics and embraces resolution.

The determined Blazers tossed the stat books aside, came up with yet another strong defensive game and Adam Reid and Nick Smith capitalized on their scoring opportunities to give Clear Spring a 2-1 victory, earning the Blazers a spot in the state semifinals Saturday against either Pikesville or Sparrows Point at Washington College at 5 p.m.

"We just came out and played our game," said Smith, who scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes left. "We pulled together as a team like we've been doing all season."

All it took was a flick of Smith's foot to end Beall's 11-game winning streak and give the Blazers their first region title in 13 years.

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Clear Spring had back-to-back corner kicks in the 79th minute, the second of which turned into the winning goal. Elliot Reid crossed the ball from the right corner to Smith, who was just outside the right goal post and tapped it in to break the 1-1 tie.

"Elliot had the corner and he just put the ball where I could get it," Smith said. "There was a defender there, but all I had to do was flick it in."

"It's a miracle," Clear Spring coach Greg Hoff said. "Corner kicks aren't really our strength. We practice them, but we don't really harp on them. That was unbelievable."

Maybe even more unbelievable was Beall's inability to capitalize on its own corner kicks. The Mountaineers (13-2-1) had a 9-2 advantage on corners in the first half and had several looks at the goal, but couldn't quite crack the net.

"We couldn't finish," said Beall coach Tim Nightengale. "Soccer is a cruel sport. To have controlled the game as much as we did and not come out on top is disappointing."

Clear Spring (13-4) was forced to drop back for most of the game - especially in the first half - but almost always found a way to keep Beall out of the goal. Whether simply booting the ball out of bounds and forcing the Mountaineers to restart on a throw-in, or being relentless in the 18-yard box, the Blazers' defense stood strong.

"This is the best defensive team I've coached," Hoff said. "We just try to keep the pressure off and let (Andrew Beadle) do what he's capable of in the goal."

Beadle continued his solid postseason play and finished with seven saves. He was key in turning away all of Beall's failed corner kicks and made only one mistake, which seemed to be a result of playing on FSU's artificial turf.

With the Blazers leading 1-0 in the 50th minute, Beall set up for a direct kick from about 25 yards up the left seam. Shawn Cutter quickly dished the ball to Jared Lopez, who blasted a low shot toward the right side of the goal. The ball took a quick skip on the surface and barely got by Beadle.

"That's a ball that Beadle's usually going to get," said Hoff. "It was different playing on the turf, but North (Hagerstown) let us practice at (Mike Callas Stadium) and it definitely helped us out."

The turf was even more deceiving because of the steady rain that soaked it and continued to fall during the game. But Reid was able to take advantage of it to score Clear Spring's first goal.

Reid got free up the right side and had an open look against Mountaineers goalie Josh Weimer. Reid kept the shot low and it rocketed past Weimer to give the Blazers a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

"I think Francesco Scotto DiCarlo got it up over the defense before I got it," Reid said. "I just wanted to keep it on the ground because this stuff is really fast."

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