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Hubs set up for county title sweep

September 18, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

The North Hagerstown girls soccer team will be looking for its sixth straight Washington County Tournament championship tonight at Mike Callas Stadium against Boonsboro, while the Hubs boys will try to give North a sweep when they play defending champion Williamsport.

The girls championship game will begin at 7:30, with the boys final following at 9:30.

"They're pretty motivated to keep the streak going," Hubs girls coach Rick Aleshire said.

"We definitely have embraced the underdog role and we're looking forward to having a chance to play the returning champions at their stadium," Warriors girls coach Kyle Lingg said. "We believe in ourselves, the girls believe."

North Hagerstown's girls (3-1) defeated Williamsport 4-0 in the semifinals after receiving a first-round bye. Boonsboro (3-2) defeated first-year program Hancock 11-0 in the first round and Clear Spring 5-1 in the semis.

Kelsey Smith leads the Hubs with four goals, two on free kicks as her heavy shot gives North a real weapon on set pieces.

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"She's a weapon teams have to know where she's at on the field at all times," Aleshire said. "Teams have to make sure they don't give up a 30-yard free kick."

Katie Ritter and Beth Wagner each have two goals this season. North will look to use its speed in the attacking end.

"We're going to put the ball up top and let them run some, and let Wags run the middle of the field, too," Aleshire said.

Lingg believes the Warriors can counter that speed defensively.

"Our defense is anchored by two seniors, Alyssa Monninger and Anna Olszeweski, and our keeper is a senior, Becky Smith, so we have a lot of experience back there," Lingg said.

Boonsboro has six players with at least three goals. Abby Duncan has five, Amber Smith and Jen Sherdel each have four and Kara Nettleton, Ashlyn Hawbaker and Emily Horst each have three.

"We're confident we're going to find opportunities to score and we're going to look to our girls to finish the opportunities," Lingg said. "I've been happy because both our scoring and our assists are really spread out. We can come from all different places, use a lot of combinations."

North Hagerstown (2-3) reached the boys final by defeating Boonsboro 3-2 in the first round and Clear Spring 2-0 in the semifinals -- handing the Blazers their only loss to this point. Williamsport (2-1-2) defeated South Hagerstown 2-0 in the first round and Boonsboro 2-0 in the semifinals. The Warriors reached the semis by virtue of their two goals against the Hubs.

Neither team in the boys final has won since the tournament semifinals. North Hagerstown has dropped three straight games, to Middletown 1-0, Tuscarora 4-2 and Francis Scott Key 3-2. Williamsport has tied St. Maria Goretti 2-2 and Thomas Johnson 0-0, and lost to Walkersville 4-1.

The Hubs have been led offensively by Nelson Moreno (two goals, two assists) and Frederick Owusu-Ayim (two goals, assist).

"They work well together," North coach Glen Singer said. "Nelson's got good touch on the ball and a good feel for the game. We want to get them behind the defense where they can use their ability to create some chances."

Williamsport's best player is midfielder Bryan Whitmore, who scored three of his four goals this season in the first two rounds of the tournament.

"I hope he keeps being opportunistic," Wildcats coach Chris Downs said. "The forwards aren't getting things to go in the net, but they're doing things that Bryan is taking advantage of. Bryan creates a lot of opportunities, there's no secret about that. Even in these last three games, he's performed well."

The Wildcats could get a boost from the return of midfielder Mark Oliver, who has been out with a knee injury.

"For them to get Oliver back will be big, he really settles down their midfield," Singer said. "Whitmore's one of the best players in the county. We have to contain him, keep him in front of us and not give him opportunities. ... Both teams are going to limit the other team's chances, so it's going to come down to who gets a good bounce, who gets a good break and takes advantage of it."

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