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Hawks get fit enough to be tied by Lord Fairfax

August 30, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

First-year Hagerstown Community College men's soccer coach Brian Eichelberger didn't get the win he was hoping for in his debut as the Hawks opened their season at home against Lord Fairfax on Wednesday.

However, he didn't suffer a loss, either.

In a wild, back-and-forth game, HCC jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead, then tired and fell behind 3-2 early in the second before regrouping, tying the game and fighting through two overtimes before settling for the 3-3 tie.

"They didn't put their heads down once they got down, they kept battling," Eichelberger said. "This was a good test for them. We just have to correct our mistakes."

The Hawks - playing with just 14 players, 10 of them freshmen - took the lead about 20 minutes in when Mark Connelly trapped a ball in the middle facing away from the goal 30 yards out, executed a quick spin and unleashed a shot that rose over Cannons goalie Ty McKeever, then dipped into the net.

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"I just wanted to trap it, turn and hit it," Connelly said. "As soon as it started dipping, I knew it was in. It was a lucky shot. ... We wanted to start the season on a good note and get Coach off to a good start."

"It was a wonderful play," Eichelberger said. "He's one of the players I went out and recruited, and that's what I expect from him."

About 15 minutes later, Jeremy Rupert's free kick from 40 yards out flew right to McKeever, who had it go right through his arms and into the goal to make it 2-0.

However, the heat and humidity started taking its toll on the Hawks, and Lord Fairfax started using its depth to its advantage.

Fabio Gerreiro beat HCC goalie Sonny Hines to Anthony Massullo's free-kick cross, knocking the ball past Hines to cut the lead to 2-1.

Early in the second half, Gerreiro notched his second goal on a 20-yard rocket that deflected off the left post, then settled just inside the right post to tie the game. Kevin Kinsey then curled a 25-yard free kick inside the left post to make it 3-2.

"We all got fatigued," Connelly said. "We just wanted to go get that goal back."

The Hawks seemed to catch a second wind in the last 20 minutes of the second half, playing better soccer and creating numerous scoring opportunities against Lord Fairfax's offside trap.

A Cannons defensive mistake allowed Tyler McKenrick to run onto a ball deep in Lord Fairfax's end and find Rupert, whose shot squeaked just past the goal line for his second tally of the match and the 3-3 tie.

The Cannons lost two players to red cards for arguing calls, one late in the second half, the other in overtime. However, the Hawks failed to convert on their chances.

"We just held on to the ball too long, too much dribbling," Eichelberger said. "I'd rather work the ball wide and spread it out. ... It's my first year here, and I'm trying to put my philosophy to this team. I'm real pleased overall with this game."

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