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Hubs clamp down on defense, tie Knights

September 08, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN

As Middletown turned up the pressure late in the final 40 minutes of Tuesday night's boys soccer game at Mike Callas Stadium, North Hagerstown's defense showed what it's made of.

While the Knights consistently threatened to score the winning goal, the Hubs refused to break and ultimately held strong to get a 1-1 draw.

"We were fortunate the shots they were getting were mostly outside the (18-yard) box," North coach Glen Singer said. "Caleb (Mittel) came up big when he needed to. All our defenders played a great game. They're going to carry us."

Middletown had a 13-4 edge in shots and an 8-1 edge in corner kicks in the second half and the two overtimes. But Mittel made two nice stops -- one on Zach Fontenot's hard low shot to the left side in the 62nd minute, and one on Luke Welch's low shot in seventh minute of the first overtime -- and the Knights sent several other good looks wide, none better than Greg Norman's effort from 15 yards that went just wide of the left post in the 64th minute.

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"It's very disappointing," Middletown coach Bob Sheffler said of the Knights' failure to put in the game-winning goal. "We wanted to produce more shots, but a tough North defense didn't let us do it. We have to work on our shooting mentality and take them early, especially with the wind behind us."

North (2-0-1) opened the game by dominating the first 10 minutes of possession and taking the first four shots. The rest of the first half played more evenly, with the Hubs breaking through first.

In the 26th minute, the ball bounced out of a crowd of players in the middle to a streaking Wesley Wilson on the right side. Wilson took a couple touches into the box, then crossed to Ryan Byard, who calmly drilled it into the net.

"That ball popped outside and (Wilson) was right where he was supposed to be," Singer said. "He put a nice little cross in and we finished it off. ... We tried to get the ball outside to our flanks and get space. We were more patient the first 20 to 25 minutes."

Middletown equalized against the run of play in the 29th minute on a counterattack. Welch hit Fontenot with a nice through ball up the middle, and Fontenot's shot deflected off Mittel -- who was charging out from his goal -- and into the left side of the goal.

"After our goal, we spread ourselves out a little too much and lost our patience," Singer said. "They had a great counterattack, and the wind played into that in the second half. We tried to play a little too quickly and it played into their possession."

The Hubs had two chances late in the second overtime, but Niklas Grahn's corner kick with three minutes left was caught by Middletown keeper Shane Falcinelli, and Max Psillas mishit his free kick from 28 yards out and it sailed right.

n North Hagerstown's JV team defeated Middletown 2-0 behind goals by Derek Cermano and Tiago DeSouza. Casey Goodrich and Mark Grunberg combined for the shutout in goal.

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