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County foes begin sizing up each other

September 04, 2009|By ANDREW MASON & DAN KAUFFMAN

The annual Washington County Public Schools soccer tournaments begin today with three boys games at Williamsport and three girls games at Clear Spring.

The remainder of the tournament will be played at North Hagerstown -- the semifinals on Saturday and the finals on Sept. 19.

While the boys tournament appears to be wide open, North is the team to beat in the girls tournament, as the Hubs are the five-time defending county champs.

"I'd like to think we are the favorite," said North girls coach Rick Aleshire, who also guided the Hubs to their first Maryland 2A West region title last year. "But Clear Spring is going to be pretty good. They've got some players. And Boonsboro could surprise some people.

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"I'm going in a little hesitant this year because each year it gets harder to stay on top because there are so many schools who want to knock you off. You can't just walk on the field thinking you've got it won, because that's when you get beat."

Last year, North beat Boonsboro 3-0 in the semifinals and Clear Spring 3-0 in the finals.

As the reigning county champs, the Hubs, who have six starters back from last year, received a first-round bye and will host today's lowest-ranked winner on Saturday at noon. The other two winners will play the first semifinal at 10 a.m.

Every boys and girls team playing today will be ranked by a points system: Five points for a win, one point for each goal scored up to four and one point for a shutout, making for a possible 10 points for any one team.

Today's girls schedule at Clear Spring is: Williamsport vs. South Hagerstown at 4 p.m.; Boonsboro vs. Hancock at 6; and Smithsburg vs. Clear Spring at 8.

Three new girls coaches are set to make their debuts -- Jen Fields with Williamsport, David Jones with Smithsburg and Brian Albert with Clear Spring.

Today's boys schedule at Williamsport is: North vs. Boonsboro at 4; Smithsburg vs. Clear Spring at 6; and South vs. Williamsport at 8. Saturday's semifinals will be the No. 2-ranked team vs. No. 3 at 4 p.m., and No. 1 vs. No. 4 at 6. A consolation game between Nos. 5 and 6 will first be played at 2.

The boys tournament seems to be wide open, with most teams having to replace significant losses from graduation. A scenario such as last year's -- when Williamsport lost to Boonsboro in the first round 3-2, but made the semifinals on the strength of the two goals and wound up beating the Warriors 3-0 in the championship game -- could unfold again.

In today's first game, the Warriors -- defending Class 1A West champions -- return senior forward Micaiah Jessie, who scored 14 goals a year ago. The Hubs feature Tyler Sterling, a 2008 All-Area First Team midfielder who transferred from St. Maria Goretti. He had 12 goals and 11 assists last year.

New Smithsburg coach Gerry Johnson will make his debut against Clear Spring in the second game. The Leopards are led by three seniors -- forward Joey Barvir, midfielder Jeremy Boyd and goalkeeper Dan Gillen. Gillen will likely be tested by Blazers forward Matthew Blair, a 10-goal scorer last year.

In the final game, the Wildcats' Bryan Whitmore, an All-Area First Team midfielder last year, should be in the middle of everything. The Rebels' defense -- led by All-County First Team returnee Andrew Rodgers -- could give Williamsport a good test.

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