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Leopards show their potential

September 07, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

CLEAR SPRING - New year, new attitude for Smithsburg's boys soccer team.

Disappointed by last year's 8-8 record and fourth-place finish in the MVAL Antietam, the Leopards have their sights set on much higher goals this year, and started their trek toward them with an impressive 6-0 blanking of South Hagerstown in the first round of the Washington County Tournament at Clear Spring.

"The guys have been working hard, and they brought their 'A' game," Smithsburg coach Paul Newman said. "We feel we didn't reach anywhere near our potential last year. No one really thinks we're going to be any good this year. We want to show to people how good we are, and even tonight, I don't think we showed our full potential."

That's a scary thought.

Josh Edwards got the Leopards (1-0) rolling by streaking up the left side in the seventh minute and cutting inside for an easy score and the lead. The speedy senior added two second-half goals - one on a beautiful header of Adam Fay's crossing pass - for a hat trick.

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"Everybody sitting in the stands knows we're going to look for him," Newman said of Edwards. "Tyler (Craig) is just as fast as Josh, so we have a speed game if we need it.

"The early goal helped us. One thing we lacked last year was confidence, and that goal set the tone tonight and gave them a boost."

Craig and Zach Carson teamed up for two first-half goals. In the 15th minute, Carson hit Craig in stride with a perfectly weighted pass upfield, and Craig converted the chance to make it 2-0. In the 24th minute, Carson made a run up the right side, beating two defenders off the dribble, and chipped a ball over the goalkeeper before Craig finished the point-blank opportunity for his second score and a 3-0 lead.

In the 33rd minute, Anthony Gibson unleashed a left-footed shot from the left corner that hooked and dipped just inside the upper right corner, deflecting off the post and in to make it 4-0.

The Rebels fell to 0-2.

After Williamsport and North Hagerstown tied 1-1 through regulation, Wildcats keeper Derek Munro dived to his left to stop Matt Johnston's penalty kick, giving Williamsport a 6-5 shootout victory and a 2-1 win.

"That's a tough way to go down," Hubs coach Glen Singer said. "Their keeper made two great saves, and we were on the wrong end of it."

Brandon Barlow, Edwin Reyes, Michael Reyes, Bryan Whitmore and Conor Doherty scored Williamsport's other shootout goals.

"I have a great nucleus of players," said Wildcats coach Tim Michael, who won in his debut. "I feel like I can count on all of them. I've got two great keepers on this team."

Michael Baer, Tim Gullace, Ethan Unruh, Ben Crampton and Cory Forsyth hit the net for North (0-1).

The Hubs controlled play through most of the first half, taking a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute when a loose ball rolled right to Baer running up the middle. Baer beat the last Wildcats defender and easily scored.

"We showed what we're capable of," Singer said. "We need to be able to do that for a full game. Give Williamsport credit, they were in better shape than we were, and that's my fault. I didn't have them ready and I'll take the blame for that."

North stayed in control until the 34th minute, when out of the blue, Williamsport sophomore Mark Oliver jumped on a loose ball 30 yards out and sent a rocket into the right corner for the equalizer.

"That was a big boost for us, him hitting that shot," Michael said. "North has a heck of a team, and I'm glad we can play with the teams in this area."

The two teams battled evenly throughout the second half, with each team just missing on a golden opportunity. In the 57th minute, Williamsport's Jesse Buchman sent a shot destined for the top right corner that North keeper Colin Lodter dived and stretched out to deflect past the post. In the 69th minute, Gullace hit the crossbar from just inside the 18-yard box.

· Shane Lowery scored two goals and added an assist, and Boonsboro raced to a 3-0 lead on the way to a 4-1 victory over Clear Spring in the nightcap.

Keith Welch and Anthony Demartino each scored, while John Miller, Gavin Master and Eddie McMurtrie added assists for the Warriors (2-0).

"It's definitely a big rival," Boonsboro coach Brad Delauter said. "The boys went at it really hard and had an excellent match. As a coach, I couldn't have asked more from them."

Matt Blair scored the goal for the Blazers (0-1).

· Saturday's schedule: Fifth-place game, South Hagerstown vs. Clear Spring or North Hagerstown, 4 p.m.; semifinal, Boonsboro vs. Williamsport, 6; semifinal, Smithsburg vs. Clear Spring or North Hagerstown, 8. The Blazers and Hubs tied for fourth; the tie will be broken by a coin flip.

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