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Hubs accept setback to get ahead

October 25, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

Losing 3-2 to visiting Middletown on Wednesday night only cost No. 1 North Hagerstown the MVAL Piedmont girls soccer title.

Much more will be at stake at Mike Callas Stadium on Tuesday, when the Hubs play in the quarterfinals of the Maryland Class 2A West playoffs - possibly against Middletown again.

Top-seeded North (13-2, 2-1), which has a first-round bye, will host the winner of Saturday's first-round game between Middletown (7-5-1, 3-0) and Liberty.

"It would have been nice to win the conference, but I'll take the game in the playoffs," North coach Rick Aleshire said. "The ultimate goal is to get these girls to states."

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Last year, the Hubs' first loss didn't come until the region semifinals, when they fell 2-1 to South Carroll.

"This might take a little pressure off the girls now," Aleshire said.

Julie Sullivan scored in the third minute to give Middletown a 1-0 lead.

North twins Stephanie and Maria Borland tied it in the 23rd minute as Stephanie scored on an assist from Maria.

The Knights made it 2-1 in the 33rd minute, when Ashley Sheffler drove her free kick into the top right corner of the net.

Then came some controversy four minutes later. Middletown's Katie Lingg took a shot that North keeper Lindsey Irving caught for an apparent save. But as Irving made the stop, she stepped behind the goal line and the ball crossed with her, giving the Knights a 3-1 lead - much to the home crowd's disliking.

"I don't even want to talk about it. I don't make the calls," Aleshire said. "We lost the ball game. That goal didn't beat us."

The Hubs controlled the second half with advantages of 6-1 in shots and 4-1 in corner kicks. North's Katie Ritter blasted a shot past Knights keeper Stephanie Fink to cap a breakaway and make it a 3-2 game in the 60th minute. But the Hubs failed to produce the equalizer.

For the game, the Hubs outshot the Knights 9-8. Fink had five saves, while Irving had three.

The match was to be played at Middletown, but the wet and rainy conditions made the artificial turf of Mike Callas Stadium more suitable.

"You hate to travel, but it was nice to get on the field before we potentially play here Tuesday," Middletown coach Heather Kline said. "I'd love to be back here Tuesday."

Middletown and North each beat Liberty by a goal this season.

"It doesn't matter to me who we get. It really doesn't," Aleshire said. "One's just as tough as the other.

"It's a new season. Everyone's 0-0."

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