Williamsport Boys Soccer Set to Defend Washington County Championship


Few teams have been as busy as Williamsport's boys soccer team in this young season.

Today is just the twelfth day of the MPSSAA fall regular season, and the Wildcats are already 4-0. The team opened with a 3-2 win over its main rival Clear Spring, and hasn't looked back, beating Walkersville then Francis Scott Key in overtime.

A 2-0 win over North Hagerstown this past weekend placed Williamsport in the final of the Washington County tournament, which the Wildcats won in 2015. The final is set to be played this Saturday at 6:00 PM at North Hagerstown against Clear Spring.

"It has become an expectation of our program to play in, and win, the championship game in Washington County, so to have the opportunity to play in the game is a privilege and a reflection of how hard our kids have been working," head coach Chris Downs said.

Downs is hoping a victory on Saturday will bring further development for a group that is actually quite young. The team is predominately juniors, with 13 on the roster, though many from that group contributed to the team as sophomores.

The Wildcats only have four seniors, something some would say is a weakness, although Downs says what the senior class lacks in numbers it makes up for with its leadership abilities. It's made for a good fusion within the group, which has carried over to the field.

"We do like to keep the ball on the ground and possess, but aren't afraid to come out of that if we need to push," Downs said. "Versatility is our theme this year!"

Indeed, Downs is quick to tell you that Williamsport's biggest strength this year is its depth.

The team regularly rotates players based off the opponent without a drop in quality of play, something that Downs has not had during his time at Williamsport. The Wildcats have scored 12 goals this year, three of which have come from substitutes.

Williamsport will need its depth as it continues its long season, especially once it reaches the postseason. The Wildcats are members of the 2A West region, which is expected to feature numerous top teams this year including Middletown, the team that eliminated Williamsport in 2015 on its way to winning the state championship. A plethora of tough teams from Carroll County also reside in that region as well as Mountain Ridge, which Williamsport eliminated last year on penalty kicks.

Before the Wildcats can chase their postseason dreams though, the team will aim to defend its Washington County title. It's always a big game when Williamsport plays Clear Spring. Make the game a championship and it has the potential to be an instant classic.

"The great thing about the Williamsport-Clear Spring rivalry is that we can fight tooth and nail and then the players and coaches are hugging afterwards," Downs said. "To me, it doesn't get any better than that. Kids need to know that rivalries should be about respecting the other program."
September 13th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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