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Blue Storm gets soccer bragging rights

September 26, 2008

Boys Soccer

Wednesday's boys soccer clash between then-No. 1 Martinsburg and then-No. 4 Mercersburg Academy truly was a battle of area titans.

The Bulldogs entered the match having allowed just three goals in their first 11 games, all victories. They were the top-ranked team in West Virginia and No. 28 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.

The Blue Storm entered having won four of their first five games, with all of their victories coming in shutouts. Mercersburg's lone loss was 1-0 to to Notre Dame Academy in the season opener.

The Blue Storm captured a 2-0 victory to hand the Bulldogs their first loss and vault past them into the No. 1 spot in this week's Super 7.

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* North Hagerstown's Michael Baer had scored eight of the Hubs' 14 goals through seven games. Baer had 12 goals all of last season.

* Berkeley Springs won its first five games behind 23 goals - Matt Martin had 10 and Josh Wise nine - before the Indians lost their next three, giving up 13 goals. But they've won their last two, with Martin (five goals, three assists) and Wise (six goals, two assists) leading the way.

* Brothers Stephen and Andy Torres are proving to be quite the combination for Broadfording. Stephen scored 11 goals and Andy added seven as the Lions have started the season 7-2 - with their only losses coming to unbeaten Grace Academy.

* Nick Bunting earned All-County First Team honors at Grace Academy in 2007 before transferring to Cumberland Valley Christian. The Knights have turned to his brother Luke to fill Nick's shoes, and Luke has responded with 13 goals in Broadfording's 8-0 start.

As for Nick Bunting, he began the season in goal for CVCS, but he's recently made the move back up front and has five goals in the last three games.

Volleyball

The first clash of the season between Eastern Panhandle powers Musselman and Hedgesville went to the Applemen, as the top-ranked team in West Virginia and The Herald-Mail's Super 7 proved how good they are in a relatively easy 25-10, 25-16, 30-28 sweep.

Musselman has arguably the area's best attacker in Erica Manor (5.61 kills per game), and Kayla Johns (9.41 assists per game) has stepped right in and lessened the impact of the loss of All-Area First Team setter Chelsea Wheaton to graduation.

* The battle for supremacy in the Eastern Panhandle could have a new wrinkle this season. Martinsburg has quietly gone 5-0 in its best-of-5 matches this season. The Bulldogs will find out where they stand when they face Musselman on Tuesday and Hedgesville on Oct. 7.

* North Hagerstown is halfway to successfully defending its MVAL Piedmont title from a year ago. The Hubs already hold victories over Middletown and Walkersville in league play.

The Hubs (4-2 overall) should have little trouble with Frederick (1-4), so the league title will likely come down to them and rival South Hagerstown, provided the Rebels get past Middletown on Oct. 9. North and South will battle it out at North on Oct. 21.

* Clear Spring struck the first blow - sort of - in the battle for MVAL Antietam bragging rights between the four Washington County schools in the league. The Blazers defeated Smithsburg 3-1 on Tuesday.

However, the Blazers and Leopards will meet again, on Oct. 8. When teams in the same league play twice in the regular season, only the second match counts toward the league standings.

Golf

Clear Spring senior T.J. Socks has made major improvements, and seen them in the Blazers.

In his fourth varsity season, Socks can remember the rough days when the Blazers would be lucky to break 200 on a four-man team score.

Things have changed and, this season, Socks has lowered his individual 9-hole average to 40.1.

He was all smiles Tuesday when he emerged as one of four Washington County golfers to qualify for the Maryland 2A/1A state tournament next month at Potomac Ridge Golf Club in Waldorf. Socks posted a 4-over-par 76 at Black Rock, easily the best round of his career.

* North Hagerstown might have had its team qualify for the state tournament had it not been for an unfortunate injury to one of its top players. Jake Steich, who averages around 40 for 9 holes, suffered a hand injury hitting out of a divot and had to withdraw on the back nine.

The Hubs, who had Kyle Walters and Becky Gossard qualify individually, finished fifth with 339, but were within strike of second-place Middletown (334). North might might have shaved up to six or seven shots off its total had Steich been able to play.

* Jefferson's Ryan Milburn cracked 40 for the first time this year Wednesday and did it in style, posting a 1-under-par 35 on a tough back nine at Beaver Creek, leading Jefferson to the Apple Valley League title.

Martinsburg's Eric Mathias also had his best outing of the year with a 41 to help Martinsburg finish second.

Cross Country

Cory Hampshire should be feeling like the king of West Virginia.

The Jefferson senior won the Mountaintop Combo boys race in Kingwood, W.Va., last Saturday in 16:17. He beat runner-up Zach Tennant of North Marion by 15 seconds, while leading the Cougars past Wheeling Park, 104-133, for the team title.

Tennant is the No. 1 runner in West Virginia Class AAA, according to runwv.com's current rankings, while Wheeling Park is the defending West Virginia Class AAA team champ.

Hampshire opened the season at the Jefferson Invitational with a 10-second victory over Berkeley Springs senior Lenny Roach, who's ranked No. 1 in Class AA-A.

The Berkeley Springs boys team also is ranked first in the state in Class AA-A. Ravenswood, the eight-time defending state champ, is No. 2.

- compiled by The Herald-Mail sports staff

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