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Sparrows Point shows Blazers the way home

November 12, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

CHESTERTOWN, Md. - The Clear Spring boys soccer team had the rug pulled out from underneath it Saturday.

After turning a 1-13-1 season a year ago into a Class 1A West region title, the Blazers' magic carpet ride had the brakes applied in the Maryland 1A state semifinals.

Sparrows Point put an end to Clear Spring's dream season with a 2-0 victory at Washington College's Kibler Field, scoring a goal in each half to finish the Blazers' season with a 12-4 record.

"For these kids to come back from last year to do what they did this season, even though it ended this way, is absolutely amazing," said second-year coach Greg Hoff, himself a former Clear Spring soccer player. "The key to the year was communicating and playing as a team. We had chemistry and harmony."

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However, there wasn't enough chemistry and harmony when it came to offensive production Saturday.

The Blazers managed just four shots on goal, only one a serious threat to reach the back of the net. Conversely, the Pointers (12-3-1) fired off 24 shots from all parts of the attack zone to keep the Blazers hustling on defense and goalkeeper Andrew Beadle on his toes.

In the 21st minute, Dustin McVey weaved through three Clear Spring defenders and fired a shot from 16 yards that Beadle couldn't stop. The ball took one bounce, flattened out on the artificial turf and skidded under Beadle's right hand.

"It was only the fourth time (two games, two practices) we've been on turf and I just couldn't get used to the skips," said Beadle. "Their offense was awesome. They just kept finding the gaps and attacking. We lost, but it was the best feeling in the world to get to the states."

Clear Spring, which has relied on its defense throughout the year, couldn't sustain much offensively in the first 40 minutes and managed just one shot.

"We really didn't want to hold back on defense," said Hoff. "We had a hard time finding our targets on offense and they pressured the midfield so well."

In the 48th minute, Beadle stopped a free kick and the Blazers were on the move with aggressiveness into the Pointers zone. To the left of goalie Josh Elliot, Clear Spring's Elliott Reid drilled a shot from 22 yards, but Elliot glided quickly to the corner of the bar and stopped the shot.

"Everyone started to move better, we got some angles and Reid got off a very good shot," said Hoff.

That was Clear Spring's most efficient attack, even though it got two other shots on goal later in the half.

In the 78th minute, a loose ball headed toward the Clear Spring zone. After Sparrows Point was careful to stay onside, the Pointers' Chris Diecca booted the ball past Beadle, who had made a move, albeit late, to get to the ball first.

Beadle was still very good in goal, stopping nine shots by the Pointers, not one being easy.

"Andrew, he's one of the big reasons we got here," said Hoff. "And these kids got me further as a coach than I did as a player. I never won a region."

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