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Blue Storm knock 'Dogs off their perch

September 25, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg boys soccer team woke up Wednesday morning as the top team in West Virginia Class AAA, as the fourth-ranked team in Region IV and had honorable mention marks from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

So what would that make Mercersburg Academy after its 2-0 win Wednesday night against the previously unbeaten Bulldogs?

Not even the Blue Storm know just yet.

"It's a great honor to be able to play a team of that caliber," said Blue Storm senior midfielder Tim McHale. "The team really pulled together. We knew Martinsburg was a really good program - highly ranked. We just put all our effort into it."

Mercersburg (5-1) strutted onto the Cobourn Field turf and handed Martinsburg a rude awakening, contradicting for at least one game all that the Bulldogs have accomplished so far this season.

"(Mercersburg) played our game and we played 'I don't know whose' game," said Martinsburg coach Greg Miller. "This is probably the best team we'll face this year."

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The Bulldogs - who are also The Herald-Mail's top-ranked team - had won their first 11 matches by outscoring the opposition 25-3 with nine shutouts. For the first time this season, the Bulldogs got to see how it felt.

McHale got the Blue Storm - No. 4 in The Herald-Mail poll - on the board in the 29th minute by unleashing a free kick from 35 yards past Martinsburg goalie Roger Ausherman for a 1-0 lead.

Junior forward Carlos Garcia delivered an important insurance goal in the 57th minute, beating Ian Franke up the right sideline for a one-on-one with Ausherman. Garcia fired it through for a 2-0 advantage.

"It was capitalizing on a couple of opportunities," said Blue Storm first-year coach Quentin McDowell, whose team has won five straight games. "We got a good free kick (from McHale) and then it was a good counter attack (by Garcia). We just had some good opportunities."

McHale got his chance after Bill Flanagan was tripped up the left seam. But as McHale was setting up his shot, teammate Joey Roberts was issued a yellow card for delay of game. McHale said the turn of events fazed the Blue Storm - but evidently not enough because shortly after, the shot kissed the back of the net.

"After Joey Roberts got the yellow card it disturbed us a little bit. But it was the right call," McHale said. "I just stepped to the ball and put it in the right spot. We really rose to the occasion and pulled off a big win."

Martinsburg (11-1) suffered the loss despite holding a 17-6 advantage in shots on goal. Eight of those attempts came in the final 22 minutes, shortly after Garcia put the Blue Storm ahead 2-0.

"In the last 15 minutes, we packed it in," McDowell said. "You have to know when to attack and you have to know when to hunker down. We were perfectly OK with hunkering down."

Region IV includes prep teams in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

JV: Martinsburg, 3-1.

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