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Smithsburg girls poised to continue their soccer dynasty

November 20, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG - It's probably safe to say that since the turn of the century, the Smithsburg girls soccer team has turned the corner.

Beginning with a share of the 2001 state title, the Leopards have made appearances in the Maryland Class 1A semifinals in six straight years. Smithsburg successfully defended its 2005 state title Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over Perryville at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in Catonsville, Md.

"It's just as sweet the second time around as it was the first time," Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes said.

The Leopards are 97-16-2 since 2001 with three state championships, two semifinals appearances and one runner-up finish.

"That's pretty impressive," said Fowkes, who took over as head coach in 2002 and has guided the Leopards to 78 wins. "To get that many wins in so few years shows how good this program has become."

The group of seniors on the field Saturday night has seen much of the success with 64 career wins one better than the 2005 senior class. And the experience in last year's 2-0 state title win over Sparrows Point provided advice from the upperclassmen to the Leopards' younger players Saturday night.

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"The veteran players talked some about last year and told the younger players what to expect," Fowkes said. "Like how to play in a big game in front of a big crowd, and I think it helped."

Senior midfielders Katie Seifarth, Mia Doyle, Tessa Doyle, Carly Jones, Jenna Burns and Cara Jordan ended their Smithsburg soccer careers on a high note. All played an important role in the Leopards' success this year all the way to the state final.

Jordan assisted two goals on corner kicks and Burns helped fill in at midfield for Seifarth who left the game in the first half with a broken nose.

The seniors went a long way in securing back-to-back state championships, but there was always that extra nudge provided by their eventual successors.

Sophomore Danielle Berk helped out in the midfield after Seifarth's exit and added the go-ahead goal in the second half. Junior Chelsea Hoover scored her 18th goal of the season and Shelby Layman, also a junior, scored two to finish her season with 24.

"Personally, I just always play for the seniors," Layman said. "They deserve this more than anyone. We're all about playing for each other."

Smithsburg will lose valuable depth and experience when the seniors are ushered out, but the next generation of Leopards seems poised to step in just as has been the trend for the past six years.

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