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May 29, 2007

Real-life ending beats Hollywood script

When Hopkins goalie Jesse Schwartzman flung his left leg out to stop the shot that sealed a 12-11 victory over Duke and brought a ninth NCAA championship back to Homewood, one could almost hear the television executives at ESPN groaning.

Oh, how they wanted Duke to win this thing. After all, if you're sitting in ESPN's world, what could have been a better story? The script already had been prepared. Program on the edge of winning a title two years ago is shamed into canceling the following season under grimy circumstances. Team hires an African-American exotic dancer to perform at party, and the good times go awry, after dancer accuses three players of rape. Booze, sex, race, the privileged white guys at the prestigious school gone bad. Juicy stuff.

Then, justice gradually prevails, the players are declared innocent, the dancer is deemed a liar, and the team rebounds with a fury under a new coach and kicks butt all the way to the championship game. Redemption is at hand.

And suddenly, the national media, the engine that drove home the theory that these rich, coddled boys must have done something really bad, reverses course. Now, Duke is their best friend, bringing a great comeback story into America's living rooms. Go Blue Devils.

Too bad for the men in the nice suits with the blow-dried hair and the makeup and the microphones.

Boring old Johns Hopkins, the school sitting four miles north of M&T Bank Stadium next to US Lacrosse and the sport's national museum, the school that's seemingly been playing lacrosse since the middle ages, had kicked in the studio doors and messed up the stage.

To print reporters like me, Hopkins' 12-11 victory over Duke not only produced a worthy and appealing champion, it created the best story, the story that most reflects real life.

Real life is all about the gray area, not the black and white world so embraced and promoted by the media, especially the talking heads. In the gray area, these Duke players are not the evil men they were portrayed to be last year, and they're not the angels trying to right a wrong in 2007. They were a group of jocks earning degrees at a great institution who put themselves in a terrible and embarrassing situation with poor judgment. Then, they were prosecuted and convicted unfairly in the court of public opinion, with a huge assist from the media.

In the gray area, even if Duke had won the championship, none of those scars would just disappear. That's Hollywood formula. Boy meets girl, falls in love, and they live happily ever after.

The best story unfolded on Monday in a way that championed the gray. Hopkins, suddenly the black hat guy in this drama, was a decided underdog before nearly 50,000 fans. ESPN might have been cheering louder for the Blue Devils than anyone. And the Blue Jays, with admirable tenacity and skill and great coaching that went largely unmentioned, showed their mettle in a way that deserved to be celebrated.

Duke was valiant, exhausted and extremely emotional in defeat. In my opinion, the Blue Devils emerged as more sympathetic characters, more human, as they digested one more hard lesson. In the grand scheme of things, Duke lost a lacrosse game, which is nothing compared to the hell they partly inflicted on themselves, however unjust it proved to be.

And the Blue Jays are to be commended. Not only did they scratch and claw their way to a very sweet title, after overcoming their own, on-the-field problems that could have ruined their season weeks ago. But by knocking off the opponent that was supposed to win it all and achieve a Hollywood-generated redemption in the process, Hopkins injected some refreshingly gray, real life into the picture.
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 12:52 PM | | Comments (7)

May 28, 2007

If it's close down the stretch, Hopkins could have edge

Duke was able to hold off Cornell barely in Saturday's Division I men's lacrosse tournament semifinals, after the Blue Devils built what appeared to be an insurmountable, 10-3 lead. You take a win any way you can get it, but allowing Cornell to go on an 8-1 run and tie the score with 17 seconds left, before pulling out a victory with three seconds left on a goal by Zack Greer, was not the most ideal script for Duke.

It also exposed some chinks in the Duke armor that had Johns Hopkins feeling quietly confident as the two schools prepared to square off at M&T Bank Stadium for the NCAA title today.

All season long, Duke has rolled through its schedule with a dynamic starting unit led by attackmen Matt Danowski and Greer. What the Blue Devils have covered up to this point is their lack of depth and a defense that sometimes gives up too many quality shots.

Mostly, it was the sight of Duke staggering throughout the fourth quarter in the heat and humidity -- letting Cornell simply run by its defenders as it made the Big Red's comeback look easy -- that made the Blue Devils look beatable. Of course, beating the Blue Devils in the faceoff circle fueled the Cornell rally. Duke has not been that great facing off all spring.

This late in the season, any team still standing has lots of strengths. But it's the weaknesses (or lack of them) that separate the champions from the also-rans.

Danowski and Greer have carried the offense and taken pressure off the defense all season, and they very well could do it again today. But Hopkins is built perfectly to spring the upset. The Blue Jays nearly emptied their bench in Saturday's win over Delaware, and finished off the Blue Hens with a strong, late run. Their defense has allowed nine goals in the past two tournament wins, goalie Jesse Schwartzman is playing at his typical, postseason level, and the offense has enough shooters and balance to get it done.

If the Blue Devils are going to finish the job, they might need a three- or four-goal cushion by the middle of the second half. If Hopkins is on Duke's tail early in the fourth quarter, don't be surprised to see the local team slip away with its ninth NCAA title.
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 11:05 AM | | Comments (0)

May 25, 2007

Keep an eye on the men in goal

Twelve years ago, Brian Dougherty put Maryland on his back with a heroic, 23-save effort in the NCAA men's lacrosse semifinal round. That catapulted the Terps past unbeaten Johns Hopkins and into the NCAA title game.

In 2002, Syracuse goalie Jay Pfeifer made 32 saves in the final two rounds of the tournament to lift the Orange to the national championship. The next year at M&T Bank Stadium, it was Tillman Johnson's turn to be the hero in the net, as Virginia rode his amazing work to the title.

In this weekend's final four at M&T, the moral of the story is, keep your eyes on the man in the cage.

The marquee game tomorrow, between top-seeded Duke and fourth-seeded, undefeated
Cornell, features the two most explosive offenses in Division I. But guess what? The men who ultimately will decide the issue probably will be the seniors in goal -- Cornell's Matt McMonagle and Duke's Dan Loftus.

They dominated a 7-6 Cornell win in Durham earlier this season. They surely will occupy two of the top three All-America spots at their position when the votes are announced this weekend. And whoever helps his team survive the semifinals probably will do so with an effort that boasts 15 to 20 saves, maybe more.

The same conditions apply to the first game. Third-seeded Hopkins, which has improved remarkably over the last six weeks, feels good about its chances in light of that. And the X factor for Hopkins is senior goalie Jesse Schwartzman, the MVP of the 2005 tournament and the last goalie standing on that 16-0 squad.

Schwartzman has had quite an up-and-down ride in 2007. He actually got pulled in the first quarter of a 15-3 win at Mount St. Mary's on April 30. He nearly got pulled from one or two other games. But he has a history of coming up big in big games, and his 15-save effort in last week's 14-6 trouncing of Georgetown is a case in point.

Then there's unseeded Delaware, and junior goalie Tommy Scherr, whose 18-save gem against Virginia in the first round helped pave the way for the Blue Hens to crash the M&T party. Delaware has the best faceoff man in the game in Alex Smith, a tremendous starting six on offense led by senior midfielders Dan Deckelbaum and Jordan Hall, and the Blue Hens are good at playing the bully on defense.

But, should Delaware knock off another one of the game's elite, here's betting the hero will be that 5-foot-10 kid from Mount St. Joseph named Scherr-- the man in the cage.
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 10:30 AM | | Comments (0)

May 24, 2007

Local talent in women's final four, just no local teams

While attention locally is understandably focused on the men’s collegiate championships this weekend, the women’s Division I title will be decided this weekend as well in Philadelphia at Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.


Don’t strain yourself looking for Maryland-based teams among the final four. For a fourth straight season, there are none, marking the longest absence for Old Line State teams in the national semifinals since the NCAA began offering a championship tournament in 1982.


It’s not that there aren’t Maryland players among the four teams (Duke, two-time defending champion Northwestern, Penn and Virginia) who vie tomorrow. In all, the names of 27 Maryland players, from private and public schools alike, dot the rosters, with 19 of them playing for Duke and Virginia alone.


But, for whatever reason, Maryland, the historic hotbed of lacrosse, has had a hard time in recent years getting its local schools to the Promised Land of the Final Four.


The most obvious explanation comes from Title IX, the landmark federal legislation that has increased opportunities for women in all aspects of education, including athletics.


To be in Title IX compliance, more schools have added more sports for women over the last three decades, lacrosse included, so there are more places for young women to play the game in college, many of which are not in Maryland.


And on a high school level, there is more lacrosse talent spread throughout the country, or hadn’t you noticed that the school that ended Mount Hebron’s 103-game streak, West Genesee, is located in New York?


Of course, there’s no reason to believe that Maryland, which has nine titles, Loyola, which has made three Final Four appearances in the last 10 years, and Johns Hopkins can’t make tournament runs in the future, fueled by in-state players. Between the three schools, 47 Maryland players are on their rosters.


At the same time, two of the senior stars of the Mount Hebron team, which just notched its 11th straight state title, Jacqueline Giles and Bria Eulett, are headed for Georgetown and Richmond, respectively, next year.


Speaking of Mount Hebron, you can get a look at their championship win over North Harford, as well as the other five boys and girls public school title matches on Comcast’s “On Demand" function, starting June 1. The games will be free to digital subscribers.


That, of course, leaves satellite and non-Comcast subscribers out in the lurch, but, between Comcast Sports Net and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, there’s enough down time to get these games on the air, right?

Posted by Milton Kent at 8:41 AM | | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

Mount Hebron's still the one, but North Harford makes it tough

A decade and one.

Mount Hebron's 7-6 win over No. 9 North Harford in last night's state Class 3A-2A championship was the closest call the No. 1 Vikings have had in winning 11 straight state titles.

The Vikings have reached the final every year since 1992 and have lost only once, in 1996. That year, Annapolis took the title, 11-10, in double overtime.

For the next 10 years, the Vikings won their state titles by an average margin of 10 goals. Their 1997 and 1998 victories came by two goals each, but the next closest came in 2005 when they beat Urbana, 11-5. Still that game was 10-0 at halftime and never in doubt. Last year, the Vikings defeated Stephen Decatur, 16-0, in the final.

So in edging such strong competition, last night's one-goal victory was really something to celebrate, coming with three goals each from Alicia Krause and Monica Zabel and a stellar defensive effort backed by Caitlin O'Malley's eight saves.

Late in the first half, Jessica Giles took a shot to her left cheekbone and had to sit out for a while to see how badly she was hurt. But the sophomore midfielder returned to play a key role in the second half.

Her role in helping the Vikings dominate possession, helped turn a 5-4 North Harford lead at the half into a 7-5 Mount Hebron lead on Giles' goal with 16:14 to go.

"We had to keep her out for a while. They wanted to keep her under observation for a concussion," said Vikings coach Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, "so once we got her back in the game I thought that our draw control possession seemed to go up."

The Vikings will graduate 13 seniors this year, but Krause, Zabel and Giles will be among the returning contingent to go after state title No. 12 in a row next spring.

Oh so close

North Harford did everything it could to dethrone the Vikings, but the Hawks came up just a little short.

Still, coach Tara Buecker would have needed at least two game balls to hand out last night. One to Corey Donohoe, who scored five goals, and the other to goalie Lauren Scott, who made 10 of her 13 saves in the second half to keep the Hawks in the game. But they were just two standouts in a stellar team effort.

"I told them to keep their heads high, because they played well," said Buecker, who led the Hawks to their first state final in her first season as head coach. "They played their hearts out and they did everything they could do to get the win, and it just didn't work out our way. I'm so proud of them.

"The whole season, they've worked hard, and they haven't given up [for] one game. ...And that's what I always asked from them from the beginning of the season -- be relentless and to keep pushing, and that's what they did."

The Hawks finished 17-2, losing only a pair of one-goal games to No. 3 and Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champ John Carroll, 10-9, and to the Vikings.

Donohoe polished off an impressive season with some exceptional goals to finish with 83 goals and 42 assists.

"We were all pumped up for it. We were ready for them," said Donohoe. "I think we played very well. Lauren Scott, our goalie, stepped up so much and did an amazing job, and we [had] faced them before. We faced them my freshman and my sophomore year, so we knew what they had."

Donohoe, who will play at North Carolina next season, was smiling after the game despite the disappointment.

"We never gave up and everyone played their hearts out, so you can't ask for anything more than that," she said.

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 7:42 AM | | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Breaking down the title games

Here is a capsule look at the boys high school lacrosse championship games today and tomorrow at UMBC Stadium:

Class 2A-1A

What: No. 13 Winters Mill (18-0) vs. Parkside (17-0)

When: Today, 6 p.m.

Outlook: The Falcons of Carroll County are having their best season in the program’s four-year history of varsity lacrosse, having won their league and Class 2A-1A West region crowns.Their defense has allowed five goals per game, anchored by Towson University-bound goalie Travis Love, Maryland-bound John Hopkins, Maryland-bound Mike Boyd, 6-4 senior Devin Spence and sophomore Kyle Fendlay. Offensively, Sean Smithson (43 goals, 43 assists), Sean Reitenbach (32, 10), Ben Love (43, 14) lead the Falcons’ attack, and top scorer Nick Leech (48, 40), Garrett Hill (34, 18) and Jake Stocksdale (18, 33) shore up the midfield. Although the Falcons boast wins over 3A-2A state finalist Glenelg, of Howard County, 3A-2A region finalist Urbana, of Frederick County and Old Mill, of  Anne Arundel County, they face an experienced state title contender in the Rams, winners of 52 of their past 53 games after having been runners-up at 17-1 last season. The Rams earned their fifth straight trip to the final four and averaged 15.5 goals, heading into last weekend’s 7-5 semifinal win over Marriotts Ridge, of Howard County, a team Winters Mill blanked, 13-0, earlier this year. Against Marriotts Ridge, Zach Hill, Mike Raffetto and Gaven Cary scored twice each, and midfielder Kyle Gallagher had five assists. Veteran keeper Mike Chubb anchors the Rams’ defense.

Class 3A-2A

What: No. 11 Fallston (18-1) vs. Glenelg (14-3)

When: Tomorrow, 4 p.m.

Outlook: Fallston’s Cougars, of Harford County, are in their first state final since winning the crown over South River in 2001. Glenelg’s Gladiators, of Howard County, are in their first title game since being runners-up to Pikesville in 2002, and are after their program’s first state title. The Cougars, winners of five of the past eight county titles, have an attack made up of sophomore Pat Mull (16 goals, 50 assists), junior Luke Raab (32, 16) and senior Chad Palmer (37, 10). The Cougars’ defense of  Penn State-bound Dave New, McDaniel-bound Nelson Hannahs, John Lawhon and goalie Brad Motley has allowed less than five goals per game. Glenelg is paced by juniors Chris Gotschall (45, 29), Josh Braun (31, 8) and Tyler Burford (17, 15) on attack, and junior Ryan Dougherty (28, 9) and senior John Derwent (13, 13) at midfield. Junior Jon Selfridge has made 120 saves in the goal.


Class 4A-3A

What: No. 10 Severna Park (17-1) vs. Wootton (18-0)

When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.

Outlook: Wootton became the first Montgomery County team to reach the public school state finals in that district’s 10-year history of playing the sport, doing so with a 9-7 semifinal win over the Dulaney Lions, of Baltimore County. The Lions had won five of the past eight state titles, with Severna Park having won the other three, including last year’s title-game victory over Dulaney. Tonight’s game is a rematch of last year’s semifinal, won by Severna Park, 13-7. Loyola College-bound Eric Lusby (63 goals, 28 assists), San Diego transfer Colby Rhodes (52, 29) and Randy Waugh (19, 6) lead the Falcons’ attack, as does North Carolina-bound Chris Hunt (23, 16), their midfield. The Falcons are looking to add to their titles won in 1999, 2004 and last year against Wootton, whose goalie, Steven Silverberg, made 15 saves as the Patriots overcame a third-quarter, three-goal lead against Dulaney. The Patriots’ explosive offense is led by attackman Sam Burns and midfielder Ben Engleman, who scored four goals each in a 15-8 victory over county rival Springbrook for their program’s second straight West region title. Wootton midfielder Ricky Hafer and faceoff specialist Patrick Bailey are also strong performers.

Posted by Lem Satterfield at 5:31 PM | | Comments (1)

Duke's Danowski worth the price of admission

As if anyone needed to be convinced, Duke senior attackman Matt Danowski proved once again yesterday that he is without peer in the current game of Division I men's lacrosse.

Watching Danowski run circles around upset-minded North Carolina in yesterday's 19-11 rout in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals was the treat of the day at Navy. I remember at one point, while Danowski was igniting top-seeded Duke's furious comeback from an early, 6-1 deficit, looking out at the crowd of 8,123 and thinking, if I didn't have this job and press pass that comes with it, I'd gladly fork over the dough for the ticket and the parking to watch this guy anytime, anywhere.

Danowski and teammate Zack Greer each torched the Tar Heels for an astounding 10 points apiece, and Greer is the best finisher in the game, as his seven goals attest. But Danowski, who chipped in four goals and six assists, is a walking lacrosse clinic.

The son of Duke coach John Danowski can shoot it from anywhere, whatever the angle, whatever the distance, with either hand. Runners, fadeaways, wraparounds, behind the back, standing still. He's got the arsenal covered.

But it's his ability to see the field and get open as a passer that truly sets him apart. Danowski simply can't be covered one-on-one. Shut him off as a shooter, and he'll kill you with his feeds. Give him an opening, and he can dodge to get himself open, and the goalie is at his mercy.

And, in a way that reminds me of former Syracuse superstart Mike Powell, Danowski is the hardest-riding attackman in the land. No opposing ball carrier is safe with him in the neighborhood.

Danowski is the best player and the game's hardest-working star. If you're still looking for a reason to pony up at the ticket window at M&T Bank Stadium this weekend, Duke's No. 40 is it.
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 9:39 AM | | Comments (0)

May 18, 2007

Breaking down the quarterfinals

With the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament final four a week away at M&T Bank Stadium, where a record crowd approaching 60,000 is expected at the Division I semifinals (May 26) and the title game (May 28), it's time to pick the survivors from this weekend's quarterfinals round.

Given how UMBC and Delaware, each unseeded, has smashed a chunk of the bracket with huge, first-round upsets, I probably should be tempted to pick another shocker. I just can't.

In the first game tomorrow at Princeton, Albany seems like a trendy choice. The Great Danes are the story of the year under coach Scott Marr, and they can score with anybody with attackmen Frank Resetarits and Merrick Thomson, the best scoring combo this side of Danowski-Greer. Plus, Albany obliterated Loyola -- one of my brilliant upset picks -- in the first round, 19-10.

But how do you not like fourth-seeded, unbeaten Cornell over the Great Danes? Midfielder Max Seibald's foot injury is a definite concern, and Cornell isn't the best faceoff team, but the Big Red always has the answers, and always seems to produce a telling run. Depth at midfield, an explosive attack led by David Mitchell and Eric Pittard, and a sturdy defense led by senior goalie Matt McMonagle will show the way. Cornell, 15-10.

The Johns Hopkins-Georgetown clash could involve some bloodletting. The sixth-seeded Hoyas, who have a great crop of young guns led by midfielders Andrew Brancaccio and Scott Kocis and attackman Craig Dowd, play the most physical brand of lacrosse of any team left. No. 3 Hopkins knows this all too well. In a preseason scrimmage before the 2006 season, defenseman Jerry Lambe broke Blue Jays midfielder Stephen Peyser's jaw with a cheap shot that cost Peyser half a season and still has Hopkins boiling in private.

There must be a reason these two schools have played only once, in 1993. Anyway, grudges aside, this feels like a 10-8 Hopkins win. The Blue Jays are a bit suspect on defense. but watch senior goalie Jesse Schwartzman pull out another one of those big games he's known for, and watch the Blue Jays' deep offense get after Georgetown's short-sticks and suspect goalie Miles Kaas. Peyser's faceoff work and the Hopkins shooters will decide the issue.

On Sunday at Navy, I see a blowout coming. Yes, No. 8 seed North Carolina competed hard in two earlier losses to Duke. Yes, it's hard to beat a team three times. Blah, blah, blah.

Here's the deal. Attackmen Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, that ball-hawking defense and senior goalie Dan Loftus -- maybe the game's most underrated -- represent a Blue Devils team that is hellbent on winning it all. Carolina is thrilled to be playing in its second quarterfinal game since 1998. Don't be surprised by a 14-8 Duke whipping.

Finally, Delaware looks like the right pick in its confrontation with UMBC. Senior faceoff man Alex Smith could win at least 75 percent of his draws, the Blue Hens are big and physical on defense, Canadians Jordan Hall and Curtis Dickson and senior midfielder Dan Deckelbaum give them scoring balance, and junior goalie Tommy Scherr is red hot.

But don't dismiss UMBC. The Retrievers are playing fast and loose and are pouncing on people with a great attack and transition game. They score in bunches. And the defense has matured nicely in front of sophomore goalie Jeremy Blevins, who, like Scherr, had 18 saves in the first round in Sunday's win at Maryland.

Looking at the way Delaware dismantled No. 2 Virginia, this should be a relatively easy day for the Blue Hens. But if Blevins has another gem in him, this is the game that goes against the grain. Don Zimmerman coaches his butt off and junior midfielder Terry Kimener scores the game-winner in OT for a 13-12 win that sends the Dawgs to their first final four. And Zim gets a crack at Hopkins, the school that dumped him in 1990 after he had bagged three NCAA titles for the
Blue Jays.

It has to play out this way, right?
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 10:20 AM | | Comments (1)

May 17, 2007

It's time to relax and enjoy the parity

College lacrosse can be amusing, especially when some of the traditional powers lose. It's like the world ended. When UMBC upset Maryland last weekend, it didn't take long for his critics to cry out that the sky was falling and Maryland coach Dave Cottle should be fired. And there were critics who also took shots at coach John Desko because Syracuse didn't make the 2007 Division I tournament.  Wow, two major catastrophes in a year. Hmmm, I think we should cancel Christmas.

But I have a suggestion for all of those folks pointing fingers: Wake up and shut up. College lacrosse is changing. We've been hearing about parity in the sport for years. Parity doesn't mean the less traditional schools like Albany and Delaware replace Virginia and Hopkins as powers, but it allows those schools to step up and bite them every once in a while.

To slap around Cottle is to cheapen what UMBC has done, and the Retrievers have a pretty good team. Their offense is as high powered as any in the country when their attackmen are playing well. Delaware upset Virginia in Virginia last weekend because the Blue Hens have some great athletes, and they got more confidence as the game went on. "By the third quarter, they were tossing the ball around like the Harlem Globetrotters, and I was wondering, 'who in the hell were these guys?'" said Virginia coach Dom Starsia.

You get the point. College lacrosse has become like the NFL, "on any given Sunday...."

I'm not going to mention Cottle's overall record at Maryland because it speaks for itself. He has been just as efficient and productive at Maryland as his predecessor, Dick Edell, who never won a national title in his 18 years at the school. People mention Maryland in the same breath with Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton and Virginia, but the Terps haven't won a national championship since 1975.

As for Desko at Syracuse, the man has won three national championships since replacing the legendary Roy Simmons Jr. in 1999. If he has one bad year, or two or three in a row, it's no big deal because he has earned a grace period.

Before people start asking for the heads of lacrosse coaches, take a deep breath, count to five and then be quiet. It's great for the game to see other teams pop up. It's exciting to watch a UMBC or Delaware make it to the final four. It's good that coach Scott Marr can go up north and put Albany in the playoffs.

It's only a matter of time before Syracuse is back in the hunt again. Maryland is always there, and Cottle may have had his best recruiting season since he became the coach in 2002. It has been a long time since Maryland, Virginia and Syracuse weren't in a final four, and if Hopkins loses to Georgetown this weekend, this will be a strange final four field.

But that's college lacrosse. Parity is here to stay, and the traditional powers are still strong -- just not as dominant as they used to be.

Posted by Mike Preston at 8:04 AM | | Comments (1)

May 15, 2007

Singing a different tune

Johns Hopkins senior Mary Key loves music, and that's not surprising for someone with a famous lyricist in her family.

Not that she ever met him.

Key's great, great, great, great, great grandfather is Francis Scott Key, who wrote the words to the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," when he spotted the flag on the morning after watching from a ship in the harbor as the British shelled Fort McHenry in 1814.

While Mary Key loves music, she admits that she didn't inherit the ability to create it -- the words or the music.

"People always rip on me," she said with a laugh, "but I played like three musical instruments and I was horrible. I could not read music. But I always wanted to be part of music and if I could, I would play instruments, write it, do it myself. I totally have respect for those people who do it and can do it well."

Key said she has a strong feeling whenever she hears "The Star-Spangled Banner" played before a game, just knowing that she is descended from the man who wrote such revered poetry.

However, she has made one little change in his lyrics for games at Homewood Field.

"At the end, I started saying, 'home of the Jays,'" said Key. "It's cool. It's our own unique thing that we've made for our team that I think will be carried on at least a few years while these girls are still here, because they all take it to heart. We try to be like, 'this is our home, this is our field,' and it's our own little rendition of it."

Off to a good start

Navy completed its transitional season from club team to full-fledged Division I program by finishing second in the national women's college club championships over the weekend in Denver.

The Midshipmen finished the season 18-5 with only two losses to teams that were not Division I varsity teams. They won one game over a Division I foe, Howard.

In continuing an excellent club history, Navy is one of two teams to compete in all seven US Lacrosse Women's Division Intercollegiate Associates championship tournaments.

In Saturday's title game, the Midshipmen fell to Cal-Poly, which won its seventh straight WDIA championship, 16-9. Cal-Poly is 25-0 in WDIA tournament competition.

The Midshipmen were within 11-7 with 11:22 left on Erin Rawlick's third goal of the game, but Cal-Poly answered with a three-goal run that all but sealed its victory.

Rawlick, a freshman from C. Milton Wright who had four goals and two assists in the title game, finished second among the Midshipmen in scoring with 91 goals and 36 assists, just one point behind Amanda Towey with 71 goals and 57 assists. Another freshman, Mary Ruttum, from St. Mary's, scored three goals in the final and finished with 66 goals and 31 assists.

Next season, the Midshipmen and coach Cindy Timchal, who moved over from Maryland last fall after leading the Terrapins to nine national championships, will dive into full Division I competition as they compete in the Patriot League.

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 6:58 PM | | Comments (0)

MIAA B and C conference teams take center stage

Friday night's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship game at Calvert Hall offers a shot at redemption for underdog Park, which is playing in its fourth consecutive title game. It also affords rival Archbishop Curley an opportunity to repeat an earlier win over the Bruins for its 10th straight victory. That would complete Curley's best season since 1986 when it won the last of the school's five titles in the now-defunct Maryland Scholastic Association.

The Friars (17-1) are paced by two of its captains, Kenny Whittaker and Doug Herdigan. Park is led by Joe Press, Colin Smith and Jamie Matz. In their earlier matchup, the Friars built a seven-goal halftime lead only to allow the Bruins to rally to within 9-7 of an eventual 10-7 victory for Curley. The Friars were semifinalists in 1998, 2005 and last year, when the Bruins came from behind to end their season, 7-6.

Their contest will be preceded by the MIAA C Conference title game, which features a rematch from last year, when Chapelgate defeated Cardinal Gibbons on a goal by Ryan Gavlin with 44 seconds left in overtime. Chapelgate had lost both regular-season games to Gibbons, which finished 14-1.

The teams have split two regular-season games this season, making the matchup more intriguing. Chapelgate has an eight-game winning streak; Cardinal Gibbons has won five in a row. Senior attackmen Josh Skene and Ryan Kearney return for  Gibbons after combining for seven goals in last year's title-game loss. Gavlin, a senior, returns for the Yellowjackets, who won their third title last year.

Posted by Lem Satterfield at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)

May 14, 2007

Have-nots have their way

My, how refreshingly different things look for a change after the first weekend of the Division I NCAA men's lacrosse tournament.

Since 1992, with only one exception, every tournament final four has included at least three of the following five schools -- Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Syracuse, Virginia and Maryland. With the quarterfinals ahead this weekend, only Johns Hopkins is still around. And that might not be the case after the third-seeded Blue Jays take on sixth-seeded Georgetown on Saturday.

Syracuse never even made it to the postseason, after stumbling to a 5-8 finish for its worst season since winding up at 3-8 in 1975. Yet, that was a mere warm-up to yesterday's telling, first-round toppling of kings.

Princeton, trying to get back to its second final four since 2002 and looking for its seventh NCAA title since 2001, went down in overtime to Georgetown. Then came the loudest tremors of all.

Defending national champion and No. 2 seed Virginia was nearly shut out on its home field in the second half, as the Cavaliers tumbled hard in a 14-8 rout at the hands of unseeded Delaware. That marked the first time a No. 2 seed has fallen in the first round since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 16 teams in 2003.

After that stunner, unseeded UMBC, playing in only its fourth Division I tournament, scored 13 of the game's last 19 goals and ran by No. 7 seed Maryland at Byrd Stadium, 13-9.

That clears a first-ever, final four path for the winner of Sunday's Delaware-UMBC quarterfinal at Navy. It creates the possibility of a Hopkins-UMBC semifinal matchup at M&T Bank Stadium on May 26, of UMBC coach Don Zimmerman going against Hopkins, where he won three NCAA titles in the 1980s before getting fired, following a 6-5 finish and first-round tournament exit in 1990.


In the past 15 years, only the 2001 tournament turned out to be this unpredictable. Towson and Notre Dame each made it to the final four, only to be bounced by Princeton and Syracuse, respectively.

But this time, both of those bluebloods are gone already, and Virginia and Maryland will be watching the rest of the games.

This feels like the future of the NCAA tournament.

Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 10:14 AM | | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007

Looking for an upset pick? Check out Loyola

Loyola College has not been represented in the Division I men's lacrosse tournament since 2001. That changes officially on Sunday, when the Greyhounds travel to play fifth-seeded Albany in the first round of the three-weekend event.

Looking for a real sleeper in the 16-team field? It's not unseeded Princeton. The Tigers have won six national titles in the last 15 years, and last won it all in 2001. They have coach Bill Tierney and that trademark defense behind superb goalie Alex Hewit. Many observers expect Princeton to knock off No. 6 Georgetown on Sunday, then give visiting, third-seeded Johns Hopkins all it can handle in the May 19 quarterfinal at Princeton.

The real sleeper is the team in green from the little Jesuit school on Charles Street. Unseeded Loyola (7-5) has been in hibernation, ever since its string of 14 consecutive postseason appearances was snapped, following the departure of coach Dave Cottle for Maryland.

But a year after barely missing the NCAAs, the Greyhounds have the ingredients to end up in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend.

In senior Dan Kallaugher, they have a steady faceoff man who can secure enough possessions. In sophomore goalie Alex Peaty, they have one of the game's young stars who can turn a game's momentum, which will come in handy against the high-shooting, high-scoring Great Danes.

Led by senior attackman Dan Bauers, senior midfielder Andrew Spack and junior attackman Shane Koppens, Loyola is loaded with speed between the boxes, where their stable of midfielders, such as junior Paul Richards, likes to create messy, unsettled situations with the ball on the ground. This gets one of the game's better fastbreaks going.

Loyola has matured into a patient, unselfish offense. Two-thirds of its 126 goals are assisted, and the Greyhounds are shooting a strong, 30.5 percent. They have converted on a solid, 36.1 percent of their extra-man chances.

Playoff inexperience, and an inability to win much on the road, could bite Loyola. But Albany has never won a playoff game, and the Greyhounds are built to win a shootout that could develop with the Great Danes. Then, Loyola would presumably have to knock off fourth-seeded Cornell, the only unbeaten team in the field, to get to the final four at M&T Bank Stadium.

Two months ago, Loyola flew to California and took out a top-ranked, undefeated team by the name of Duke. Why not the Big Red next?

Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 11:05 AM | | Comments (1)

May 9, 2007

Philly's gaining ground

Don’t look now, but Baltimore’s status as the capital of the lacrosse world may be facing a new challenge from another northern city.

Granted, Philadelphia’s rise up the lacrosse ranks is nascent and largely confined, for now, to Penn’s women’s team, which drew a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, and the Drexel men’s team, but the journey of 1,000 miles can start with a couple of sticks.

Unlike the Quakers, the Dragons (11-5) were unable to crack the NCAA field of 16, just missing out on an at-large bid. But the future looks bright at the West Philadelphia school, which loses just five seniors.

Drexel, which finished tied for first with Towson in the Colonial Athletic Association regular season, lost, 11-7, to Delaware in the conference semifinals last week before an enthusiastic home crowd.

“This group has done all of us proud,” Drexel coach Chris Bates told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “They fought and competed all year. I think that (the reaction) was the fans showing their appreciation for the year we had.”

It was, to be sure, an impressive year at Drexel, which included a first-ever win over Hofstra and a season-opening 11-10 road win over defending national champion Virginia, two of three victories over Top 20 teams.

The 11 wins tied for second most in program history and the program made it all the way to 15th in the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.

Five players from Baltimore-area schools are on the Drexel roster but, perhaps more importantly, more than a third of the Dragons’ 45-man roster is from the Philadelphia area. That bodes well for the future, assuming the City of Brotherly Love can continue to crank out talent.

Posted by Milton Kent at 2:17 PM | | Comments (0)

May 8, 2007

5-spot works for Terps; no place like home for Penn; Sea Gulls soar, and more

Maryland coach Cathy Reese wasn’t upset about the Terrapins getting the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament. Sure a No. 4 seed would mean the home-field advantage in the second round if the Terps can beat Yale on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ludwig Field. If they beat Yale, chances are the Terps would have to travel to Philadelphia to play fourth-seeded Penn, and the Quakers are one of the hottest teams in the tournament.

Still, Reese likes the five-spot.

“It’s the number I wore as a player, and it’s my lucky number,” said Reese, a former All-American at Maryland.

“Besides, who knows … if we were to win and BU beat Penn we could still play at home. That’s the uniqueness of the tournament that any game can go any way. I just really want to get through one game first. We need to keep everyone grounded because it could be a long second season or a very short one.”

Home-field advantage

No team has come further this season than Penn, but in the postseason, the Quakers won’t go far -- from home, that is. The rest of their games will be at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, the site of the final four.

The Quakers (14-1) earned the fourth seed in the tournament, assuring them of playing at home as long as they stay in the tournament. That could be a while.

This has been a banner year for the Quakers, who made the tournament for the first time since 1984. They also won their first Ivy League title since 1982. Until this season, they had never been ranked higher than No. 9. They finished 2006 at No. 20 -- their first ranking since 1994.

Three local women play for the Quakers -- sophomores Ginna Lance (Mount Hebron) and Katie Mazer (Bryn Mawr) and freshman Barb Seaman (Roland Park). All three saw action, and Seaman scored seven goals and had two assists.

If the home-field advantage provides that kind of motivation, we’ll be watching Towson next season, because the Tigers will host the final four in 2008.

Don’t forget Division III

Maryland’s most successful Division III team, Salisbury, rolls into the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in nine years. The Sea Gulls (18-1) won their fifth straight Capital Athletic Conference championship to seal an automatic bid.

Baltimore-area girls flock to Salisbury, where the lacrosse is excellent, but the pressure isn’t as intense as it is at Division I schools.

Coach Jim Nestor’s Sea Gulls have 15 locals, led by top scorer Sue Ackermann, a junior attacker from Liberty, who has contributed more than 100 points this season -- 46 goals and 58 assists. Natalie Degele (Centennial) is second with 36 goals and 33 assists followed by Stephanie Shores (Old Mill) with 52 goals and 15 assists.

Natalie Pappas, a freshman goalie from McDonogh, has started 14 games and has a .503 save percentage. She is allowing just 6.51 goals per game.

One of four teams to host the regional championships, the Sea Gulls open play Saturday at 11:30 a.m. against the winner of today’s game between Washington & Lee and Wooster. If they win, the Sea Gulls would play again Sunday for a berth in the final four May 19-20 at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y.

Ranked No. 2 in the latest Inside Lacrosse Division III poll, the Sea Gulls suffered their only loss, 8-7, on March 31 to Franklin & Marshall, which is now No. 1.

The Sea Gulls have beaten two of the tournament’s most storied teams -- Middlebury, 11-10, on March 27 and the College of New Jersey, 13-12, on April 14. Both of those teams are in the Sea Gulls’ half of the bracket, but they couldn’t meet either one until the semifinal.

Most of Salisbury’s other wins have come by significant margins. They average 17.4 goals per game and have beaten opponents by an average of 11 goals per game.

The Sea Gulls are no strangers to the final four. Two years ago, they reached the national championship game before falling to the College of New Jersey, 9-7.

Hardly rookies anymore

Baltimore-area players have always had an impact on the college women’s game -- some of them immediately. Last year’s All-Metro class stepped up quickly.

At Virginia, Brittany Kalkstein (Roland Park) earned Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year honors after finishing fourth (39 goals, 7 assists) on the Cavaliers' scoring chart. She proved equally valuable for her ability to win the draws, controlling 51.

At Johns Hopkins, Samantha Schrum (St. Mary’s) became the Blue Jays' first Rookie of the Year, taking the honor in the American Lacrosse Conference. She was the fourth-leading scorer for the Blue Jays with 28 goals and 9 assists.

At Denver, Aly Flury (Broadneck) was the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s Newcomer of the Year. She was the Pioneers’ second-leading scorer with 59 goals and 13 assists.

The Centennial Conference doesn’t have a newcomer award, but if it did, Lidiaµ Sanza (St. Paul’s) likely would have taken the honor. An All-Conference second-team selection at Franklin & Marshall, Sanza was the only freshman on the first or second team. The goalie has a .567 save rate and allows only 5.62 goals per game for the Diplomats, who are the No. 1 team in Division III.

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 5:20 PM | | Comments (0)

May 7, 2007

County titles on the line

Severna Park (Anne Arundel), Dulaney (Baltimore) and Centennial (Howard) will play familiar opponents for county championships tonight.

Tenth-ranked Severna Park will meet 11th-ranked Broadneck, which it defeated, 11-9, earlier this season. Severna Park’s high-scoring attack of Colby Rhodes, Chris Hunt and Eric Lusby are expected to pressure Broadneck’s Pat Simpson, one of the county’s premier goalies.

Dulaney routed Hereford, 14-4, earlier this season. Since then, however, the Bulls (10-1) have won six consecutive games. Dulaney, ranked 15th, receives balanced scoring from attackmen Spencer Martin and Mike Colonell, and midfielders Eric Keppeler and Jay Mann. Hereford counters with Perry Menzies, Sam Mowell, Dixon Green and Colin Gload.

The best matchup of the three could be at Centennial, where the Eagles play Mount Hebron, an 8-7 loser in overtime in the teams' first meeting. Faceoff midfielder Jonathan Stumpf and defender Mike Rossberg pace Centennial. Mount Hebron is led by goalie Billy McNamara, midfielder Justin Martinelli and attackman Bobby Cooke.

In the junior college ranks, freshman Alex Ashcroft, a Centennial graduate, scored 10 goals and assisted on another to lead host Howard Community College to victories over Harford and Essex last weekend for its first Region XX title.

Ashcroft, midfielder Holt Skovron (Liberty) and defender Tom Cooper (McDonogh) were named to the all-tournament team. Attackman Sean Stevens (Calvert Hall) made second-team, and midfielder Doug Strickland (Eastern Tech) earned honorable mention for Howard, which defeated Essex, 16-13, for the championship. Howard will play in its first NJCAA Final Four this weekend at Nassau Community College in Garden City, L.I.

Ranked No. 2 nationally, Howard (14-1) will face Nassau-CC in Saturday’s 3 p.m. semifinal. The championship game is on Sunday at 1.

Posted by Lem Satterfield at 11:35 PM | | Comments (0)

Duke is the team to beat

The 16-team NCAA Division 1 men's lacrosse tournament is not short on storylines and potential surprises.

For the first time ever, six state schools have been invited to the party. Loyola, back for the first time since 2001 -- after playing in the tournament for 14 straight seasons -- has a chance to upset fifth-seeded Albany, which at 14-2 is the most feel-good story in the game. But the Great Danes have never won a Division 1 playoff game, and they can be had by a high-scoring, senior-laden Greyhounds squad.

UMBC (10-5) has one of the hottest attacks in the country, including dynamic freshman Cayle Ratcliffe, and the Retrievers think they can knock off No. 7 Maryland for only the fifth time in 29 meetings with the Terps. Towson (9-6), as unpredictable as any team alive, has its hands full against undefeated Cornell, which sank to a No. 4 seed due to RPI and strength of schedule formulas in some computer.

No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins respects unseeded Notre Dame, but the Irish have not beaten enough quality teams to convince me they won't get rolled at Homewood. Navy has every reason to believe, after trouncing North Carolina in early March in Annapolis, that it can knock off the eighth-seeded Tar Heels on the road and come back to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for a date with top seed Duke in the quarterfinals on May 20.

Ah, the Blue Devils, the team that a trumped-up rape scandal could not kill. The team that prematurely lost its 2006 season and 16-year coach Mike Pressler, and a chance to return to the title game it dropped by a goal to Hopkins in 2005. The team that has the best scoring combination the game has seen in years, in attackmen Matt Danowski and Zack Greer. The team no one relishes the thought of playing.

You think Duke (14-2) has a little chip on its shoulder, after being forced into hiding by the national media a year ago, when it had the truth on its side all along? You think Duke isn't burning with the idea of being the last team standing at M&T Bank Stadium on Memorial Day, in front of 60,000 fans, index fingers (or maybe a different one) extended?

In my mind, whether they were seeded first, second, wherever, the Blue Devils were the team to beat in this thing. Duke has it all. Talent, speed, balance, a great transition game, a strong goalie in Dan Loftus. And when you throw in the intangible -- motivation that cuts deeper than it does for any other team -- this tournament appears to be Duke's to lose.
Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 12:15 PM | | Comments (0)

May 4, 2007

Local teams could go 6-for-6

How fitting it would be. In a year when the NCAA men's lacrosse championship weekend returns to Baltimore, a year when attendance could, for the first time, elipse the 60,000 mark at the Division I semifinals and championship games that will anchor the Memorial Day weekend event at M&T Bank Stadium, the extended metropolitan area could be fully represented in the NCAA tournament.

With the tournament's 16-team bracket to be unveiled Sunday night, there is a chance that, for the first time in the 37-year history of the Division I tournament, six local schools could be invited to the party.

Navy already has automatically qualified as the champion of the Patriot League. Johns Hopkins, Maryland and Loyola are locks to make it, with Loyola coming back after missing the postseason for five consecutive years. And Towson and UMBC stand strong chances of getting in, either as automatic qualifiers or at-large entries.

Both schools could make it easy on themselves by winning their respective conference title games tomorrow. Towson, which just missed the cut in 2006 after going to the NCAAs for three straight years, needs to beat visiting Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament final. But the Tigers, by virtue of their season-opening win over Loyola, will be part of the at-large discussion should they fail to get the AQ.

UMBC also could gain an at-large bid, but the Retrievers, seeking their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and fourth overall since moving to Division I in 1981, would earn an automatic pass by defeating host Albany in the America East tournament title game.

If all six teams make it, look for some attractive, local, first-round matchups. The most likely would appear to be Towson at Hopkins and Loyola at Maryland. Towson has never beaten Hopkins under Tigers nine-year coach Tony Seaman, who is dying to defeat the school that fired him in 1998. And Maryland coach Dave Cottle has never faced the program he built from scratch. He left Loyola for Maryland in 2001, after guiding the Greyhounds to 14 straight NCAA tournaments.

Posted by Gary Lambrecht at 9:43 AM | | Comments (0)

May 3, 2007

Loyola is on the rise

Loyola College coach Charley Toomey is still concerned about getting into the NCAA Division I tournament field, but it should be the other way around. Loyola (7-4), which plays at Johns Hopkins Saturday, seems to be peaking at the right time.

Toomey, in his second season, finally has found an offense, one that has poured in 17 and 19 goals the past two weeks in wins over Hobart and Fairfield. I know what you're thinking. It's only Fairfield and Hobart. But you have to look deeper and watch things such as motion and ball movement.

The Greyhounds seem to be in the right positions all the time regardless of whom they're playing. A lot of the success has to go to Dan Chemotti. He has been Loyola's third offensive coordinator in four years, but the Greyhounds now have some stability.

They've also got some really good offensive weapons, such as attackmen Shane Koppens (16 goals, 23 assists) and Dan Bauers (26, 4). The key to their offense is that they share the ball. Of the team's 117 goals, 79 have been assisted. That's impressive.

Loyola has a good close defense led by brothers Michael and Eddie Graham and David Moore. There are two takeout specialists in long sticks P.T. Ricci and Steven Hess. Goalie Alex Peaty is only a sophomore, but he is going to be one of the best in the country when he is a senior. If he gets hot, the Greyhounds could be playing a long time into the postseason.

Even if Loyola loses to Hopkins Saturday, the Greyhounds still should get in the tournament. And if that happens, watch out. They could surprise some teams.

Posted by Mike Preston at 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)

May 1, 2007

Eagles soar above the rest

Who can stop McDonogh?

By the looks of McDonogh's finishing kick in its 9-6 win over John Carroll Monday, the No. 2 Eagles will be tough to contend with in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament.

The Eagles broke out of a 4-4 halftime tie with a 5-1 run that sealed the victory and the top-seeded spot for next week's tournament.

After losing in the tournament final last season, 10-7 to St. Paul's, the Eagles have rebuilt into a finely balanced squad that has no star players but is fast, skilled and relentless all over the field.

How do you defend against that?

"That's a great question. I'm going to have watch game film to figure that one out," said John Carroll coach Krystin Porcella, with a laugh after Monday's game.

"Really, they're just very good at what they do," explained Porcella. "They attack hard and they fire their shots early. They don't really allow you to close in the double teams or finish your slides. They turn and they fire. Everything they do, they go hard. Whether it's going after a ground ball,
whether it's going after a draw -- they are going through it if they have to and that's very hard to defend."

That has given coach Chris Robinson's team a sweep of A Conference competition this season as well as a 17-1 overall record with nine wins over ranked teams. The Eagles' only loss was to St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, 4-2, a month ago.

McDonogh is the favorite in the tournament, but who is the darkhorse? Don't count out the defending champs.

St. Paul's has been through an up-and-down rebuilding season at 9-7, but the No. 12 Gators have won six straight, including a 9-8 win Saturday at Moorestown, N.J.

While the Gators have some bad losses this season, they also have some impressive efforts. They beat St. Stephens/St Agnes, 10-9, and pushed No. 1 Mount Hebron before falling, 7-6. They only lost to McDonogh by one, 10-9, the closest any A Conference team came to the Eagles this season.

With about seven teams capable of taking the title, next week's tournament is likely to be as unpredictable as the regular season.

Tough break

Nothing could keep Bryn Mawr senior Jordy Kirr away from Thursday's Roland Park game -- not even an operation to repair her broken right collarbone.

After undergoing surgery that morning to repair the break with a plate and several screws, Kirr stood on the sideline, supporting her teammates through a heartbreaking 5-4 loss in the 75th anniversary of the two girls schools' lacrosse rivalry.

Kirr, who is headed to Georgetown next year, suffered the break in an awkward fall in the April 24th game against Mount de Sales.

"With 19 seconds left in the first half, I was fighting for the out-of-bounds ball and I fell right on my collarbone," said Kirr, who was sore and a tad groggy Thursday afternoon but couldn't stay away.

The injury could not have come at a worse time for the senior attacker with the No. 5 Mawrtians heading into the A Conference tournament next week.

She said she should be able to play again in four to six weeks, which could be just enough time.

A member of the national Under-19 training team, Kirr is determined to be on the field in Lehigh, Pa., Memorial Day weekend when the 24 girls on the training squad play for 18 final spots on the team that will represent the U.S. in the Under-19 world championships in August in Ontario, Canada.

Looking for Division I's best

Seven women with ties to the Baltimore area are on the whittled-down list of nominees for the 2007 Tewaaraton Trophy, as the best player in women's Division I lacrosse.

Maryland's Kelly Kasper (Century) and Dana Dobbie, Johns Hopkins' Mary Key (St. Mary's), Duke's Kristen Waagbo (Mount Hebron), Georgetown's Coco Stanwick (Notre Dame Prep), James Madison's Kelly Berger (Hammond) and North Carolina's Amber Falcone (Winters Mill) are among the 17 nominees.

The list, which also includes 2006 winner Kristen Kjellman, from two-time defending national champion Northwestern, will be trimmed to five with the winner announced on May 30.

Where's the concession stand?

Ever think about food when you're at a game?

A few weeks ago at the High School Lacrosse Showdown at Johns Hopkins Homewood Field, 11-year-old Sloane Coffin said watching the Roland Park girls play made her hungry. You'd never guess why. From her vantage point in the press box, Sloane thought the Reds' home jerseys looked like bags of Utz potato chips -- white in the middle with dark lettering and red down the sides.

No word on whether Sloane's father, Towson Times sports editor Nelson Coffin, stopped on the way home to buy a bag of chips for Sloane and her sister Quinn, 8.

Posted by Katherine Dunn at 11:13 PM | | Comments (0)

Big games (high school and college) in Howard County

Led by versatile midfielder Jonathan Stumpf, the twice-beaten Centennial’s boys lacrosse team enters today’s game against defending Howard County League champion Glenelg looking to become the Division II champion.

A victory by either Centennial or Glenelg would make that team the front-runner to face the Division I winner  in next Tuesday’s inaugural county title game.

Both teams are coming off losses to county rival River Hill of Division I, which is led by Sports Illustrated-featured midfielder, Dan Hostetler.

Centennial aready has an ovetime win against defending 3A-2A state champ Mount Hebron, which has a 17-7 victory over River Hill and leads Division I.

River Hill is coming off the win over Glenelg and is in second place in Division I.

In other news, Centennial graduate Alex Ashcroft (attack) and McDonogh graduate Tommy Cooper (defense) are freshmen on Howard Community College’s men's lacrosse team, which is a school-record 12-1 and the No. 2 seed as it plays host to Harford Community College at 4 p.m. Friday in the National Juco Athletic Association Region XX semifinal.

The other semifinal, also to be played at Howard, matches top seed Essex against the winner of tonight’s play-in game between Catonsville and Anne Arundel.

Essex and Howard, ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, are favored to meet in Sunday’s 4 p.m. title game. The regional champion advances into the May 12-13 NJCAA Final Four at Nassau CC in Long Island, N.Y.

Ashcroft (50 goals, 11 assists) is the top scorer for Howard, which also has sophomore attackman Sean Stevens (12 goals, 27 assists) formerly of Calvert Hall; sophomore midfielder Holt Skovron (16, 9) formerly of Liberty; sophomore defender Doug  Strickland (Eastern Tech); and sophomore defender Dan Kemp (Archbishop Spalding).

Posted by Lem Satterfield at 2:14 PM | | Comments (0)
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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.

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