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Bulldogs take bite out of Panhandle

September 14, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Martinsburg's boys soccer team has established itself as the team to beat in the Eastern Panhandle this season.

The Bulldogs hold victories over their two toughest Panhandle rivals - a 2-1 win over Musselman on Aug. 30 that was shortened by thunderstorms, and a 3-1 triumph over reigning sectional and regional champion Jefferson on Sept. 5.

"They're playing team ball, and the passing game is much improved," Martinsburg coach Greg Miller said. "There's no real superstars, they depend on each other, communicate and move the ball well."

Though the Bulldogs lost two-time Herald-Mail All-Area forward Trent Reid - who scored a school-record 105 career goals and is currently playing at Old Dominion - they returned a solid group of seniors in the midfield in Kent Lemaster, Mike Seem and Jeremy Everson, as well as forward Spike Geffert.

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"Kent is a very quick and has good ball skills," Miller said. "Mike probably has the best touch. He's more of a playmaker. ... These guys are all excellent playmakers, passers, shooters - just a good, solid team."

Martinsburg has a luxury most other area teams don't - a deep bench. Because of it, the Bulldogs are able to wear down opponents.

"I've got a good solid bench. I have five sophomores I can put in there and there's no real change, no letdown," Miller said. "High school lets you sub in a lot, and I have fresh legs because I have the bench, and there's no letdown in play. The nice thing about coaching these guys is you don't hesitate to sub these guys in."

Martinsburg travels to Jefferson on Wednesday for the rematch, and gets Musselman at home on the recently installed artificial turf on Oct. 10.

Devils off to fast start

Not many teams could lose a player the caliber of 2006 Player of the Year Treavor Gelsinger and not miss a beat.

Greencastle-Antrim is just such a team.

Though Gelsinger applies his trade at Penn State these days, the Blue Devils have kept on keeping on without him, winning their first seven games before Thursday's upset loss to James Buchanan.

"The key has been our teamwork," said Greencastle first-year coach Chad Divens. "The beginning of the year, we were putting together some nice combination play, passing the ball around. Here of late, it's been more our athleticism."

Offensively, the Blue Devils have been led by seniors Evon Wiestling (seven goals, six assists), Mac Frederick (eight goals) and Josh Higman (three goals, eight assists).

"Guys like Mac have wanted that leadership role and now have the opportunity, and he has done a nice job being the go-to guy in the offensive end," Divens said.

Higman has been a pleasant surprise in his move to center midfield, and is a feel-good story for another reason.

On Oct. 17, 2006, Higman had emergency brain surgery to remove a blood clot over his right temple. He missed the rest of the season but is back at full strength and showing Divens a lot more than he expected.

"I didn't know he had the skill he has," Divens said. "The games I'd seen of him, he looked like a hard-nosed kid, but when I got here he moved the ball around well and I thought, 'Wow, he really can play.'"

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