Shore, Dowd opponents once more

Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 9:47 p.m.

In a few months, they'll be teammates.

But tonight, for the final time in their high school careers, Gainesville's Emily Dowd and Oak Hall's Emily Shore will put their relationship aside and go head-to-head on the soccer field.

Besides sharing a first name, the two Emilys have several other things in common.

They've shared an unbreakable friendship for eight years.

They share a talent in soccer that makes them two of the best players in the area.

And after the conclusion of their senior year, they'll share a campus at the University of Tennessee.

But right now, the most glaring thing they have in common is a small space on the soccer field when they go one-on-one.

“We're like sisters. … I spend the most time with her outside of my family,” said Shore, who, as a sweeper, will be matched up against Dowd — a forward — for most of the game. “It's weird because I'm always used to playing with her, but in a way, it's fun because playing against each other always makes us elevate our game.”

Dowd and Shore have been best friends since they were 10-year-olds playing for the year-round club team, Leg-A-Z Hot Shots. Shore went to middle school at Oak Hall and continued there for high school, while Dowd decided to join the Hurricanes.

It seems to have turned out well for both.

Dowd and Shore have been The Sun's Girls' Soccer Players of the Year since they were freshmen and have garnered the interest of several Division-I schools. Throughout her high school career, Shore has amounted 126 goals and 77 assists while mostly playing defense. This season, she scored or assisted all 11 goals in one week for the Eagles and has 17 goals and 16 assists for her 11-4-2 squad.

Dowd broke Liz Theurer's two-year-old scoring record in December and has racked up 154 goals and 76 assists throughout her career. This year, she has 31 goals and eight assists for the 10-5-4 Hurricanes.

“You probably have two of the best in the area, it's Emily and Emily, they've been playing together since fourth grade, they're both going to Tennessee. How do you describe that?” Gainesville coach Fritz Kaufmann said. “When you play against your best friend, that's a lot of motivation.

“Whoever loses that game, you can bet you're going to hear it for the next few years.”

Gainesville has been hearing it ever since last season's Bobcat Invitational — when

Oak Hall beat Gainesville for the first time since the two Emilys got to high school.

“There wasn't really a rivalry until they beat us last year,” said Dowd, who may be limited in tonight's game because of a sprained ankle. “When we face each other, we just go out there and play. I have to elevate my game every time I'm playing against (Shore).”

But that's not the only rivalry between these two schools. Kaufmann and Oak Hall coach Basil Benjamin have been going at it since the ’80s, when Benjamin was a defensive back for the Gator football team and would sneak out to play club soccer against Kaufmann's team.

“He still talks about goals he scored on me that I don't remember him doing,” said Kaufmann, who played goalie while Benjamin was a forward. “This is a good rivalry between the two schools. Plus, this is (Gainesville's) senior night.

“There's going to be a lot of emotion.”

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