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Smithsburg, Poolesville end Blazers' seasons

October 28, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER

CLEAR SPRING - As seniors Chelsea Hoover and Shelby Layman substituted out of the game for the last time Saturday afternoon, Smithsburg coach Bill Fowkes was there to greet them with a smile.

"Way to save our lives out there, girls," Fowkes said.

Hoover and Layman yoked twice in the second half to score both Smithsburg goals as the Leopards blanked Clear Spring 2-0 for the second time in 25 days. This time, the win earns Smithsburg a spot in the Maryland Class 1A West quarterfinals against Boonsboro on Tuesday.

"Shelby and Chelsea, being the seniors that they are, we can count on them," Fowkes said. "They're both playoff-tested veterans and they know exactly what to do at the right times."

Despite holding a 13-3 shots advantage in the first half, Smithsburg (11-4-1) found itself in a scoreless tie with the Blazers (8-7) at halftime.

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That changed in the ninth minute of the second half when Hoover beat a defender inside the left seam and quickly crossed the ball to Layman in front of the goal. Without hesitation, Layman sent her shot past Clear Spring goalie Beth Andrews to give the Leopards a 1-0 lead.

Prior to the goal, Andrews had stopped 10 Smithsburg shots.

"(Andrews) kept Clear Spring in the game and made numerous quality saves that would have been goals against a lot of other keepers," Fowkes said. "We talked at halftime that we need to make her commit to one side and try to throw her off. We did that in the second half, especially on the second goal."

On that second goal, which came in the 74th minute, Hoover and Layman switched roles.

Layman had a line toward an isolated Andrews, but instead passed off to Hoover, who had an even better look. Andrews could not readjust and Hoover booted it through for a 2-0 lead.

The Leopards ended the game with a substantial edge in shots (23-4) and corner kicks (9-1). The game was similar to the Oct. 2 matchup between the teams when the Leopards held advantages of 16-4 in shots and 7-1 in corners, and scored in the 56th and 74th minutes to pull out a close win.

"Smithsburg seems to bring out the best in us," Clear Spring coach Jeff Semler said. "We played a great game, probably one of the best we've played all year. In the playoffs is when you're supposed to be playing your best games."

Just as she did in the first meeting, Andrews finished with 13 saves for the Blazers. The only difference is the Blazers won't have a chance to rebound from the loss until next season.

"We have a young team with a lot of girls coming back," Semler said. "Eighty minutes ago, we were looking forward to playing again. Now we can look forward to next year."

n Following the girls game, Clear Spring's boys' season came to a close with a 4-1 loss to Poolesville in 1A West first-round action. The Falcons scored twice in the first four minutes and outshot the Blazers 22-8 to advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face top-seeded Mountain Ridge on Tuesday.

"When you score early it gives you the upper hand and the confidence that you can play well in the game," Poolesville coach Christos Nicholas said. "We were able to relax a little bit after that."

Poolesville (4-7-1) came out hot as Zach Hannon scored 35 seconds into the game, followed by Dane Hanscom three minutes later for a quick 2-0 lead. That led Clear Spring coach Mark Myers to switch goalies, from Danny Sterling to Ryan Cooper.

"(Sterling) couldn't get footing and lost confidence after giving up two easy ones," Myers said. "The field conditions and the wind made it hard for everyone out there."

Cooper provided relief and held Poolesville out of the goal until the 23rd minute, when Christian Hellwig scored to up the lead to 3-0. Cooper stayed in, made 10 saves and kept the Falcons off the board until 11 minutes remained in the match.

Francesco Scott di Carlo scored a penalty kick in the 42nd minute for the Blazers to close the gap to 3-1. Hannon's goal 27 minutes later provided insurance as the Falcons eliminated the Blazers (6-9), whose season ends well short of last season's state semifinal run.

"Expectations were high this year," Myers said. "The boys got a a taste of what the postseason was like and they wanted to get back. It's tough for them."

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