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Goretti boys get even with Hedgesville

August 24, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

The Hedgesville boys soccer team swept the 2006 season series with St. Maria Goretti by a combined score of 9-1.

But experience - lost by the Eagles and gained by the Gaels - equalized the teams as they launched the 2007 season Thursday. They battled to a 1-1 tie.

"Last year we had a lot of freshmen, so the youth of the team is starting to mature," Goretti coach Marty Wills said. "It's a matter of understanding the game a little better, and we're also a little tougher. And we certainly used last year's results to motivate us."

Meanwhile, Hedgesville lost its three leading scorers from last year - Rashid Deen, Simon Lee-Feuillet and Kris Allen - and underclassmen are peppered throughout the starting lineup, including at two of the forward positions.

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"Yes, we're young and relatively inexperienced," said Eagles coach Chris Ruest. "So one of the things we want to do is come out and get better every day.

"Are we better than we were when we started this year? Yes. Are we where we need to be? No."

Goretti was simply overmatched in falling to Hedgesville 3-0 and 6-1 last season, but there was no sign of that inferiority Thursday. In fact, the Gaels held a slight advantage in ball control and outshot the Eagles, 13-11.

But turning the shots into goals was a different story. The Gaels shot wide six times and had four others turned away by Eagles goalie Kris Eichelberger. It wasn't until Eichelberger was out of the goal that the Gaels finally scored in the 46th minute.

After making a save, Eichelberger jogged the ball out to set up the offense at midfield. But a bad touch by a Hedgesville midfielder allowed Goretti senior Collin Lam to intercept the ball and send a shot from beyond 40 yards. Eichelberger quickly retreated, but not soon enough as the ball sailed over his head into the vacant net to give the Gaels a 1-0 edge.

"Since he wasn't in the goal, immediately everybody thinks that (Eichelberger) was out of position," Ruest said. "But he made a great play and the reason he was out of the goal was to set up a midfielder. We just have to make better first touches."

It didn't take long for the Eagles to rectify the blown play. Just four minutes later, Dylan Roberts was positioned in front of the goal and headed a loose ball past Gaels goalie Nick Martin to knot the game at 1-1.

"That was a big positive, especially for a young team," Ruest said. "People question when young guys get down whether they're willing to come back. And that's a sign that these guys can come back."

Goretti had several opportunities to recapture the lead, but once again found it hard to crack the net. The Gaels held a 6-2 advantage in shots on goal over the final 30 minutes, but the game remained tied. No overtime was played.

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