Tim Puls is a happy man these days. His Essex Community College men's lacrosse team is 13-0 and seeded first going into the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, today and tomorrow at Catonsville Community College.
The Knights finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in school history, winning their fourth straight Region XX championship along the way.
As if that were not enough, the Knights have been ranked first in the national junior college poll since the second week of the season. "I think it's great for our program," Puls said of the ranking. But he's not satisfied.
"We don't want to hit a plateau," he said. "We want to try and go one step further and win the national championship."
In today's semifinals, Essex was to face fourth-seeded Nassau at 3:30 p.m. Third-seeded SUNY/Farmingdale was scheduled to play second-seeded Herkimer at 1. The winners of the semifinals meet for the national championship tomorrow at 2 p.m. It will be preceded by a consolation game at 11 a.m.
During the regular season, the Knights made it clear they were
ready to challenge for the national title. During a trip to New York to battle Long Island powers SUNY/Farmingdale and Nassau, the Knights pulled their first sweep of the teams, defeating SUNY/Farmingdale, 12-8, and Nassau, 9-8. The victory over Nassau earned the Knights the No. 1 ranking and knocked Nassau out of the top spot.
Puls, who is ending his ninth season as coach, has a squad loaded with talent from the Baltimore area, including 1990 first team All-Metro attackman Sean Heffernan from Dulaney High. Calvert Hall is represented by defenseman Sean Chenworth, attackman Joe DiNenna and midfielder Jamie Carver, and Edgewood has contributed midfielders Andy Martin and Darrick
Allender. Mixed in with the bunch are two New York recruits, defenseman Rob Troy and goalie Jim Cabrey.
Other local players who have had an impact include: defenseman Sean O'Conoll (Oakland Mills); midfielders Brian Kelly (transfer from Johns Hopkins), John Siemsen (Perry Hall), J.P. McMillian (McDonogh) and Kevin Clements (Franklin); attackmen Jim Hallot (John Carroll) and Dennis Kendell (Loch Raven); and goalies Erik Miller (C. Milton Wright) and Vince Rose (Overlea).