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Coaching changes dot county girls soccer scene

June 25, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Led by midfielder Jen Fields, Glenelg won back-to-back Maryland Class 1A state titles in girls soccer in 1999 and 2000, beating Williamsport both times in the championship games.

Fields now hopes to have similar success in her new role with her former opponent.

"It's kind of funny," Fields said. "When I played at Glenelg, we beat Williamsport in the state championship both years. And now here I am coaching at Williamsport."

Fields, who has taken over for Joe Burger at the Wildcats' helm, will be one of three new girls soccer coaches in Washington County this fall.

At Clear Spring, Jeff Semler has stepped down from his 10-year post with the Blazers, passing on the reins to former assistant Brian Albert. At Smithsburg, David Jones has replaced Jeff Berk, who guided the Leopards for only one season.

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Semler left on top after leading Clear Spring to a 10-6-1 record last year, as the Blazers set a single-season school record for wins.

"My wife and I sat down and made the decision before last season even started, but I didn't tell anybody," Semler said. "We just made a personal decision as a family. It was just time for a change.

"I've been playing, coaching or refereeing soccer since 1973. Now I'm just going to be a fan."

Albert, who assisted Semler the last two seasons, has spent several years preparing for the job.

"I was thrown into the coaching ranks at the Clear Spring Club when my daughter was 4, and it's just kind of grown from there," Albert said.

His daughter, Victoria Albert, will be one of 11 freshmen on the Blazers' roster this fall.

"I have a pretty young team, but I'm looking forward to it," Brian Albert said. "I'm very familiar with a lot of the girls."

Smithsburg went 11-6-1 and advanced to the Class 1A West final last year under first-year coach Berk, who replaced highly successful Bill Fowkes. In 2006, Fowkes guided the Leopards to their second straight state title and sixth straight region crown.

The winning tradition attracted Jones, the former St. Maria Goretti star who played collegiately at Elon University.

"I jumped all over it. I was surprised the job was even open," said Jones, who spent the last 11 years coaching with Frederick United and FC Frederick, one of the region's top travel clubs.

"I want to build on what's already there, make it broader and make it deeper," he said. "You build on the past, but you don't rely on the past."

Burger has left Williamsport, but not the sport. This fall, he will work with the women's team at Shippensburg University, where his daughter, Emily Burger, will play her senior season.

"The coach asked me to come on and do some volunteer stuff on a part-time basis," Joe Burger said. "This way, I'll be able to see Emily play her last season. I've missed a lot of her games, and I want to be there to support her this one last year."

Fields, Burger's assistant coach last year, inherits a Williamsport team that went 3-11 last fall. Now she's ready to wipe the slate clean.

"I've told the girls they're going to compete for spots every day, because there are 11 spots open," said Fields, who played collegiately at East Tennessee State. "I don't care if you're a junior or a senior, I'm going to play the best 11.

"We're going to go into every game expecting to win. I don't lower the standards just because I'm a young coach."

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