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Leopards blow past Catoctin in 1A West quarters

October 29, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

THURMONT, Md. -- An old adage states, "May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face. And may the wings of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars."

The Smithsburg girls soccer team contradicted the first sentence on Tuesday, but it didn't matter because the Leopards are still dancing with destiny in the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs after a 3-1 victory over Catoctin.

Smithsburg scored two second-half goals heading into a fierce, blustery wind with a cold drizzle. The Leopards (10-5-1) are rewarded with a trip to the West semifinals at Mountain Ridge on Friday.

"To get two goals going into a wind that we faced was big. We needed them," said Smithsburg coach Jeff Berk. "You would think that having the wind (at our backs) would help us, but we couldn't finish in the first half."

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Smithsburg only managed one goal with a wind gusting up to 40 mph at its back in the first half. Emily Hargreaves scored on an assist from Ashley Ferguson for a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.

Catoctin's Tara Woelfel erased the advantage on a pass from Megan Olson, scoring in the 45th minute to tie the game at 1. The shot on goal was Catoctin's first of the match as the Cougars (8-6) began second-half play with the wind.

"I was very worried because when you play in these conditions, the wind is everything," Berk said. "Luckily our girls stepped up when (Catoctin) scored that goal."

Instead of being blown away, Smithsburg pushed forward and finally pushed through in the 66th minute. The Leopards countered an attack to midfield where Lauren Donley floated a pass to Amy Poffenberger. Poffenberger shook a pair of defenders before sending her shot past Cougars goalie Stephanie McGrath for a 2-1 edge.

"Once again, Lauren passed it to me and I just took the shot. Luckily it was to the left of their goalie," Poffenberger said. "Our club team is called the Storm. It's weird that this was stormy weather and we flourished."

Smithsburg outshot the Cougars 6-1 against the wind in the second half and held a 13-1 advantage for the match. The Leopards got insurance in the 74th minute when Ferguson split the left seam and bent a shot just inside the right goalpost.

"We've actually picked it up a notch since the playoffs started," said Poffenberger. "We have that playoff intensity and I think we're playing better as a team now."

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