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Edwards, Newman lift Leopards

December 14, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Disappointment provided motivation for Smithsburg senior Josh Edwards and the rest of the Leopards this season.

After a 2006 campaign in which Smithsburg's players felt they underachieved - finishing 8-8 overall and fourth in the MVAL Antietam before this season's realignment - Edwards and the rest of the Leopards wasted little time turning the past into a distant memory.

Smithsburg started the season by winning its first Washington County Tournament title, then went undefeated in conference play on the way to its first Antietam crown. The Leopards won 11 straight games before their season ended in the Maryland Class 1A West semifinals.

Despite missing four games, Edwards - Smithsburg's speedy forward - tied for the team lead with 13 goals and added four assists. He was at his best in the Washington County Tournament, finishing with a hat trick in both the first-round and semifinal matches and netting the only goal in the 1-0 victory over Williamsport for the title.

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Edwards is The Herald-Mail's 2007 Washington County Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

"Last year, we had the potential, we had the skill, we just couldn't put it together," Edwards said. "Last year we weren't as focused as this year. We wanted to win every game.

"Basically, it was just hard work. We played hard every game and every practice. The seniors stepped up, and basically we just came into the season with a mindset to do our best."

Edwards' level of play rose to another level when his ball skills caught up with his raw athleticism.

"My game has progressed a lot," Edwards said. "At first, I mostly relied on my speed, but the coaches and my teammates helped me get better with my ball skills, and that added another dimension."

"He's a natural-born athlete," said Paul Newman, who recently resigned as Smithsburg's head coach. "He has an amazing vertical jump and is a great basketball player, so because of that, he can't get knocked off the ball. The one thing he gotten better at was having the ball at his feet."

· For guiding Smithsburg to its first Washington County Tournament and MVAL Antietam titles, Newman is The Herald-Mail 2007 Washington County Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

"This (season) was a lot of fun," Newman said. "There was a couple times in practice I'd turn to an assistant coach and say, 'This is what coaching is supposed to be like.' I'd tell (the players), 'This is what this drill is supposed to accomplish,' and they'd go do it. We gave them some complicated drills, some things my son's college team does, and they were able to do them."

Newman used the trials and tribulations of 2006 to keep Smithsburg focused.

"It's a lot of the same kids, and they weren't a bad team last year, but we were an average team," Newman said. "I asked them if they wanted to be an average team, and they didn't want that. They wanted to be better than that, and that was a big motivating factor."

The rest of the All-County First Team, selected by the county coaches:

· Nick Bunting, Grace Academy, So., F - Mason Dixon Christian Conference first-team selection scored 24 goals and added eight assists.

· Francesco Scotto DiCarlo, Clear Spring, Sr., F - Talented striker had 12 goals and eight assists for the Blazers, earning an MVAL Antietam first-team selection.

· Joe Dumpe, North Hagerstown, Sr., D - Dumpe was an MVAL Piedmont first-team selection for the Hubs.

· Steve Kopp, Boonsboro, Jr., D - Kopp was an MVAL Antietam first-team selection for the Warriors.

· Steve Kretzer, Smithsburg, Jr., M - He was named to the MVAL Antietam first team after scoring 13 goals and assisting on six others for the Leopards.

· Collin Lam, St. Maria Goretti, Sr., M - Lam had five assists and earned Apple Valley League first-team honors for the Gaels.

· Derek Munro, Williamsport, Jr., GK - He finished with a 1.12 goals-against average, four shutouts and 225 saves and was selected to the MVAL Antietam first team.

· Mark Oliver, Williamsport, So., D - Oliver scored two goals and was an MVAL Antietam first-team pick for the Wildcats.

· Nick Rauch, North Hagerstown, Sr., F - Rauch scored three goals and earned MVAL Piedmont first-team honors for the Hubs.

· Elliott Reid, Clear Spring, Jr. - Reid was an MVAL Antietam second-team selection for the Blazers.

· Edwin Reyes, Williamsport, Jr., M - Reyes earned MVAL Antietam first-team honors for the Wildcats.

· Pat Salvagno, Grace Academy, So., F - Salvagno had 18 goals and nine assists and was named to the MDCC first team.

· David Stone, South Hagerstown, Sr., F - Stone was selected to the MVAL Piedmont first team for the Rebels.

· Craig Trueblood, Smithsburg, Sr., D - Trueblood was an MVAL Antietam first-team selection for the Leopards, who allowed 19 goals in 17 games with seven shutouts.

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