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Gardenhour follows advice, boots Wildcats into region semifinals

Gardenhour follows advice, boots Wildcats into region semifinals

November 03, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

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    CLEAR SPRING -- Williamsport forward Cody Gardenhour had Wildcats coach Chris Downs' advice ringing in his head when he found himself all alone to the left of the goal in the sixth minute of the second overtime Tuesday night against Clear Spring.

    "I had an opportunity early on from there, I tried to go to the far post, and Coach told me, 'Next time, go to the near post,' and that's what I did," Gardenhour said.

    Gardenhour's shot from the extreme angle beat Blazers keeper Ryan Cooper, giving Williamsport a 1-0 victory in the Maryland Class 1A West quarterfinals.

    The Wildcats (10-4-2) will go on the road to play Fort Hill, a 9-4 winner over Boonsboro, on Friday night.

    Bryan Whitmore gained control of the ball in the left midfield, found Gardenhour behind and between two Blazers defenders and threaded a pass to him. Gardenhour was ruled onside as he raced up the left sideline, then angled in toward the goal.

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"Bryan gave me a great ball, a great opportunity," Gardenhour said. "I had a couple trailing players, but their defenders covered them, so I took the shot."

"I thought he was (offside) at first," Whitmore said. "He was out wide and I caught him between the last two defenders all by himself. We always tell him not to shoot from that angle in practice. Then that goes in."

The Wildcats finished with a 19-16 edge in shots, but after a solid first half in which they outshot Clear Spring 11-6 and had a 5-0 edge in corner kicks, the Blazers (10-4-1) outplayed Williamsport for much of the second half and the two overtimes.

"Take nothing away from Clear Spring. They did what they had to do," Downs said. "We couldn't get anything going up front."

But Williamsport's defense was just strong enough to pitch its 10th shutout of the season, with keeper Alex Aleshire making six saves.

"That's been our backbone all year," Downs said. "They kept us in it, and we found a way to win. Survive and advance is the name of the game in the tournament."

Clear Spring had its best chance to score in the fourth minute of the first overtime. Brandon Kesselring raced up the left sideline, then along the baseline toward the goal before spotting Ralph Weaver all alone in front. Weaver one-timed Kesselring's pass and chipped a shot that beat Aleshire high, but also beat the crossbar by less than a foot.

"We had opportunities, it just didn't come our way tonight," Blazers coach Mark Myers said. "We had a couple nice passing plays, but we just didn't finish."

Williamsport came the closest to scoring in regulation. In the 76th minute, Daniel Doub curled a left-footed free kick from the left side off the right post, and Clear Spring cleared the ball out of danger.

Cooper finished with nine saves for the Blazers.

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