WINFIELD — South Carroll boys lacrosse Coach Gene Brown says his team could be facing the toughest test in the 13-year history of the program Tuesday night.
That's when the Cavaliers battle perennial Baltimore County power Dulaney in the Class 3A/4A state semifinals, tentatively slated for 7 or 7:30 at Catonsville Community College in Baltimore County.
"They are at least as good as any team we've ever played," said Brown, who has coached the Cavaliers since the lacrosse team was formed. "They don't have any weaknesses at all."
Brown said the Lions compare favorably to the highly-regarded Towson High team that thumpedthe previously unbeaten Cavs, 15-3, in the first round of the 1984 playoffs. But Brown said the 1991 Dulaney team has several outstandingDivision I college prospects on its roster, and the top-seeded Lionsthumped eighth-seeded Perry Hall of Baltimore County, 17-2, Friday.
But Brown wasn't interested in worrying too much about Dulaney on Friday after his Cavaliers had eked out a 6-5 victory over another Baltimore County school -- Catonsville -- in the first round of the playoffs. The game featured excellent defense and goal-keeping by both teams, some exciting fast-break opportunities for the Cavaliers, and astandout performance by junior attackman Jeremy Russin, who picked the perfect time to have the best outing of his varsity career.
Russin, who had scored just eight goals during the regular season, exploded for five Friday night, including the winning goal when he spun away from Catonsville midfielder Dan Dixon and beat goalie Bill Griffinwith just 3:47 to play.
Even more inspiring: Russin's brother is battling leukemia, and Brown said it was a tough week for the Russin family.
"He's a smart lacrosse player," said Brown of Russin. "He knows how to cut and he knows how to get open."
And teammate Don Pyles knows where to find him when Russin gets open -- the sophomore dished him three assists.
Meanwhile, Cavaliers goalie Mike Gaffney and his defensive mates continued to smother Catonsville. The Comets worked the ball upfield several times in the fourth quarter with the opportunity to take the lead, but almost every time a South Carroll defender would knock down a pass or check the ball loose.
And when Catonsville did get off a shot, Gaffney was there to make one of his 15 saves. He made an important save with about 2:00 to play, then defenseman Greg Sherwood forced a Catonsville turnover about a half-minute later to help preserve the win.
"It was a heck of a game to watch," Brown said. "It could have gone either way."