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Healthy Gaels make opponents sick

October 12, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN and ANDREW MASON

Now that St. Maria Goretti's boys soccer team is in good health, the Gaels' opponents aren't feeling so well.

In the last 10 days, Goretti (6-5-3) has defeated No. 5 Jefferson 3-2 on Oct. 2, Williamsport 1-0 on Saturday and No. 3 Martinsburg - the Bulldogs were No. 1 at the time - 2-0 on Monday.

The Gaels put an 0-5-2 stretch behind them with the victories, and earned the No. 7 spot in the new Super 7.

"We had an early stretch where nine starters came down with some sort of a viral or bacterial (illness)," Goretti coach Marty Wills said. "We had a couple losses, and it took a while to get everyone healthy and back."

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David Applebaum - one of the players affected by illness - has scored in each of the three victories, including the goal in double overtime that defeated Williamsport.

"We're always looking for David," Wills said. "David's tall and has good ball skills. He's one of those who, on corner kicks, is a target."

Central midfielders Collin Lam and Anis Elkharroubi, and central defenders Alex Bollinger and Aaron Wilkinson - both sophomores - gives the Gaels' 4-4-2 formation balance.

"The real key has been Collin solidifying our middle and dominating our central midfield," Wills said. "He really does a good job holding the ball long enough, distributing it and moving it forward. ... Anis and Collin work well together and look for each other.

"Alex and Aaron work well off of each other, backing each other up. One will touch it to the other, who will clear it out. They rally behind each other and solidify our defense."

It doesn't hurt to have a gifted goalkeeper - Nick Martin - as the final line of defense.

"His quickness and athleticism is amazing to watch," Wills said. "He makes the saves that keep us in games. That made the difference against Jefferson and Martinsburg."

Panhandle playoffs

After knocking heads all season, Hedgesville, Jefferson, Martinsburg and Musselman finally get the chance to knock each other out when the West Virginia Region II Section 4 girls soccer playoffs begin Tuesday.

"These local games, they're like nothing else," Martinsburg coach Meredith Matczak said. "All these rivals, and everyone wants to win."

In girls action Tuesday, top-seeded Jefferson will host fourth-seeded Hedgesville and second-seeded Martinsburg will host third-seeded Musselman. The winners meet Thursday, while the losers are done for the year. All game times are to be announced.

The four teams all played each other twice in the regular season. Jefferson went 6-0, Martinsburg 3-2-1, Musselman 2-3-1 and Hedgesville 0-6.

"You look at Jefferson on paper (13-1-3 overall record; 62 goals for, 9 against)," Matczak said, "and they're just so strong and tough.

"But everybody's tough."

Martinsburg fell twice to Jefferson this fall, losing 2-0 on Sept. 10 and 1-0 on Oct. 2.

"Real close games. We've just come out on the wrong side of them," Matczak said.

The Bulldogs (9-3-3) now have the opportunity to finally get it right.

"I like our chances. We're a really tough team," Matczak said. "But truthfully, I'm not even thinking about Jefferson now. You can't look past the first game."

Hot shots

Mercersburg Academy's Lauren Dobish has scored four goals this season, none bigger than her last two. On Tuesday, she scored against McConnellsburg a minute before lightning stopped the match to secure a 2-2 tie for the Storm. On Wednesday, she scored with two minutes remaining against Hedgesville, lifting Mercersburg to a 1-0 win. ... The McConnellsburg girls, in the Super 7 for the first time this season, have been on an October tear. Through Wednesday, the Spartans (11-4-1) were 3-0-1 this month, having outscored their October opponents 15-2.

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