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A rejuvenated Fort Meade Strikers soccer club team is looking pretty similar to the 2003 team that won two Howard County soccer league championships.

Since their last championship triumph, the Fort Meade team, which is predominantly composed of active duty military and retired personnel, went on a decline. The team struggled with players' absence due to pressing military commitments and a smaller amount of sponsorship money. Consequently, the team has missed many opportunities in the their competitions and resulting playoffs.

All of that changed at the beginning of this soccer season as the team's coach, DJ Fouche, and team members faced their problems head on. The team financed itself and recruited new players for reinforcements.

The team's efforts have been fruitful so far. They have found their way into formidable form once again.

Last Thursday night, the Strikers clinched a playoff spot after a late strike by attacking forward James Walter. His hard work earned the Strikers an all-important point to clinch a playoff berth in the Howard County soccer league.

The game was a fiercely contested affair with Strikers coming from a three goal deficit to pull even in the second half.

"I cannot say enough about the dedication and hard work my players put into these games every night they come out here to play," said Fouche about the team's performance.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock and the season slipping out of their grip, the Strikers piled the pressure on their opponents, a very talented 3C's team who had brushed aside every opponent throughout the season.

A well taken free kick by the Striker's Edwin Belleon from outside the 18-yard box sailed into the top right corner of the net giving the 3C's goalie Steven Erickson no chance to stop the ball at all. Three minutes later, Belleon struck another goal for a 4-3 score. The 3C's were not prepared to loose their first match of the season and responded almost immediately with a well worked counter attack to maintain the lead.

The Strikers kept on fighting and scored another goal through Eric Rurambo. His goal came from a tight angled shot which deflected off the goalie's heels and into the net. The 3C's could not answer the Striker's incursions. The fans began counting down the game clock, and Walter pounced on a clinical pass from the midfield to slam home the tying score. The fans responded with an ecstatic celebration. The game ended with a score of 5-5.

Kevin Miller, a member of the 3C's team, commended the Fort Meade team for playing so well. He credited the game's result to the stingy midfield who refused to give up control of the ball.

"They contested every ball and committed very little to us," he said. "We had very little room to operate in the midfield." He said. "I hope we don't have to face this team in the playoffs," he added.

The Strikers' are currently tied for third place in the league. The top three teams will advance to the playoffs. Their final regular season game is on Oct. 27 against the Terps, who are placed last in the 10-team league. Fouche said that the Strikers are determined to win the trophy and hope to finish the season like the team of 2003.

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