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Eagles put the cramps on Blazers

September 05, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING - As the Hedgesville boys soccer team walked off the field Tuesday night following its game with Clear Spring, it was evident which player had suffered severe leg cramps.

But it wasn't so obvious that the same player - senior captain David Shaffer - had more or less carried the Eagles to victory.

Shaffer scored three goals - two on penalty kicks - and added an assist as Hedgesville edged the Blazers 4-3 in overtime for its second straight win.

Shaffer scored the winning goal by emerging from a scrum of players to head Logan Robertson's pass to the right of Clear Spring goalie Danny Sterling with one second remaining in overtime.

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"When I went up, all I could see was the ball," said Shaffer, who tightened up on the play and laid in front of the goal for several minutes before limping off the field to celebrate the win. "One way or another, I had to get to it and put it through."

Shaffer outleapt everyone to finish the Robertson crossing pass, which hooked perfectly in front of the goal before being headed in.

"Everybody will see the goal and think that (Shaffer) was the star - and he did step up and make some big plays when we needed them," said Hedgesville coach Chris Ruest. "But what made the winning play was Logan Robertson making a great cross. (Shaffer) will get all the glory, but Logan was just as important."

Almost as thrilling as the game-winning goal was the score that sent the game to overtime. Trailing 3-2, Clear Spring's Sam Myers got to a deflected ball on a direct kick and booted it through to tie the game with 13 seconds left in regulation.

Clear Spring carried the momentum into the extra period with two corner kicks and three shots in the first four minutes, but none found the net.

"One of the hardest things to do as a young team is not just develop physical toughness, but also mental toughness," Ruest said. "We gave (Clear Spring) a couple of chances early in overtime, but we came back."

Clear Spring dropped its season-opener despite holding a 15-8 shots advantage. Two defenders were missing from the lineup, including 2006 All-Area Second Team selection Aaron Mills, who was injured during practice Monday night.

"That changes the whole complexion of our backfield," said Clear Spring coach Mark Myers. "(Mills) is the center back and it makes a big difference when he's not there."

Still, Clear Spring (0-1) managed to control the ball and opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Francesco Scotto-DiCarlo sent a corner kick toward the goal, where it was headed in by Elliot Reid for a 1-0 edge.

Hedgesville (2-3-1) answered five minutes later after Shaffer beat a defender and pushed the ball ahead to Robertson, who faced an isolated Sterling and scored to knot the game at 1.

A Blazers handball inside the box in the 25th minute gave Hedgesville a penalty kick, which Shaffer put away to give the Eagles a 2-1 edge. Clear Spring pulled even in the 53rd minute when Reid pulled Eichelberger away from the goal before passing to Jarrett Martin for the score to make it 2-2.

Eight minutes later, Shaffer was tripped up inside the box - once again causing an Eagles penalty kick, once again scored by Shaffer for a 3-2 Hedgesville edge.

"It was mental errors that turned into penalty kicks. That's what did it," Myers said. "And there were quite a few scoring opportunities early in the game that we didn't capitalize on. But it's early, it's only the first game and there's plenty we can improve."

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