For a team to go to the state lacrosse championship twice in a row, it helps to have a faceoff man who was born Lucky.
North Harford'sfaceoff man was born Tim Lucky.
During the past three years, Lucky has developed into one of the most dominant faceoff men in the state. Last year, he set a school record by winning 69 percent for the state Class 1A/2A champion Hawks. This year, he blew away that record by winning 85 percent of his midfield skirmishes.
"That's really phenomenal," said Mount Hebron coach Warren Michael. "Generally, 70 percent is really good."
In the 8-7 overtime loss to Mount Hebron in last Saturday's state title game, Lucky won 16 of 19 faceoffs against the Vikings' second-stringer Jason Vettori.
"When you win that many faceoffs, you really should win the game," said Michael, who lost his top faceoff man to injury inthe semifinals. "We were just fortunate they didn't convert more of those."
When the title game came down to sudden-death overtime, everybody knew the Hawks would get the first crack on offense. Lucky won the faceoff, but the Hawks missed their only shot in overtime.
About 15 seconds later, the Hawks lost their bid to repeat as champs. The Vikings' Chris Vissers took a crossing pass from Mike McQuaid andeasily laid it in the net behind Hawks goalie Tom Murrell (12 saves).
Early in the third quarter, North Harford held a 5-3 lead, but couldn't hold the lead. They needed a goal by Chuck Kelly with 16 seconds left just to force the overtime.
Despite the final disappointment, coach John Grubb's squad probably accomplished more by reaching the title game this year than they did by winning it all last year.
"We really weren't expected to go this far," said Lucky. "We lost so much attack power from last year, but at states, it was just two evenly matched teams."
Except on the faceoff. Throughout the year, Lucky dominated.
"By the end of the season, people would just concede him the faceoff," said Grubb. "They would just get back and play defense."
Lucky has shown remarkable progress after playing the game only five years. "I played baseball for 12 years," said Lucky. He also played fullback and kicked for the Hawks' football team. "I was on all the all-star teams, but then my neighbor, (Hawks teammate) Jason Ketner, talked me into trying lacrosse. I had played football and this was a fast moving game with contact, so I tried it."
Lucky spent most of two years on the junior varsity and was sidelined part of his sophomore year with a knee injury. But last year he emerged.
"Two things you look for in a faceoff man are strength and quickness, and Tim has both," said Grubb. "Tim could clamp the ball and kick it out to (Bret) Schreiber. The two of them were a great one-two punch. But as soon as a team would take Schreiber out with a long stick, Timwould push the ball out and take the fast break."
As a middie, Lucky scored 14 goals and had seven assists, as well as leading the team in ground balls with 85.
"Tim was our team leader this year," said Grubb. "In practice, he always went 101 percent. He always worked with all he had. He led by example."
Lucky's season didn't end with the state title game. Friday, he and two teammates, middie Schreiber (one goal, one assist in the title game) and defenseman Chris Gresswere to play in the Lacrosse for Leukemia benefit at Johns Hopkins. The annual event pits the best players from the Metro-area county schools against the top players from the MSA.
This Saturday, he joinsthe Harford County all-stars for a game against the West Chester, Pa., all-stars at 2 p.m. at Harford Community College.
Next year, Lucky will play lacrosse at either Delaware or Towson State while pursuing a degree in either physical therapy or athletic training. Both Grubb and Michael predict a strong college career for Lucky.
"What impresses me the most is that he's just tough," said Michael. "He justnever quits. Whatever sport you're in and even in life, that's a great attribute."