When Cindy Jenkins lived in Parkville, she knew just about all of the area's up-and-coming young athletes. After moving to Fallston four years ago, though, Jenkins didn't see much of them anymore.
Last weekend, the Fallston sophomore ran into some of those girls from her old neighborhood. Only this time they were wearing Loch Raven lacrosse uniforms. And, the old friends dealt Jenkins and her Fallston teammates a 14-9 loss in the state Class 1A/2A girls lacrosse championshiplast Saturday at Catonsville Community College.
"I knew half the team," said Jenkins, who turned 16 yesterday. "It was really difficult, because I wanted to show them I'm just as good as you guys are."
The Cougars (14-1) were just as good as Loch Raven in the 6-6 first half. But the Raiders (13-0) blew the game openin the second half.
Jenkins scored three goals, but she ended up watching much of the game from the other end of the field. The Raiders dominated the midfield in the second half, negating the transition game of the Harford County champs.
Loch Raven took 12 shots beforeFallston managed a single one and the Raiders scored the first eightgoals of the half. Jenkins scored two of her goals late in the second half and assisted Cindy Hudson for another. Elise Andrews (two), Meghan Williams (two) and Laura Rocchio had first-half goals.
"We were disappointed that we didn't win," said Jenkins. "But we did much better than anyone expected us to. For a team with only 14 players to make it to the state championships, you've accomplished something there."
For Jenkins, the road to the state title game began a long time ago. With such an athletic family, she couldn't miss a sporting influence. She also plays basketball and soccer at Fallston.
Her father, Curtis Jenkins, ran track and wrestled at Parkville High and hermother, Carol, played tennis and basketball there. Brother, Daniel, 18, wrestles at Clemson University. Sister, Courtney, 12, is just getting started in lacrosse.
Jenkins' own lacrosse roots run much deeper. She began at age 6 -- in boys lacrosse.
"There was no girls lacrosse," she said. "My brother played, so my parents asked if I could. I played for four years, but it was just clinic. When I got to 9-10, my parents wouldn't let me play any more. It wasn't clinic anymore, and the physical side of the game was coming out."
Jenkins switched to softball for a few years, but when she moved to Fallston she joined a recreation girls lacrosse team as a seventh grader.
Although her parents have always supported and encouraged her, she got an extra boost from her aunt, Lynda Slyder, who coaches the girls lacrosse team at Overlea High School.
Slyder, who bought Jenkins her first girls lacrosse stick, noticed her niece's potential early.
"I knew when she was a lot younger that she had a lot of ability," said Slyder, who enrolled Jenkins in Bob Scott's lacrosse camp at Johns Hopkins as an eighth grader.
"She's a real serious type of kid. It's her personality that she has to do the best she can do. She works realhard, sometimes to a fault. I hope she enjoys it as much as I would like her to."
Jenkins enjoys the game enough to play all summer inthe Baltimore Metro Women's Lacrosse League. The last two years withSlyder's guidance, she went to camp at Penn State, where she hopes to play her college lacrosse.
This year, Jenkins will reluctantly skip Penn State for camps at Delaware and another college site she hasn't chosen. Slyder and Fallston coach Nancy Ferguson advised Jenkins to attend different camps for more exposure -- even though she's justa sophomore.
"The name of the game is getting your name around," said Ferguson. "Academically, she's up there. She's so coachable. She's what you dream of as a coach."
Jenkins has always pushed herself to improve even though she has a natural advantage that most of herpeers do not. She is left-handed.
Defenders think they are forcing her to her weak side, but it is Jenkins' strong side.
"Most defenses are geared to a right-handed person," explained Ferguson. "They have to restructure their entire defense and you usually can't do that within a game."
In true Jenkins style, she is trying hard to master shooting, catching and passing with her right hand, something shewill need to be a good college player.
This past year, Jenkins did well enough from the left. She scored 65 goals and had 19 assists.
Even though she was the only sophomore starter this year, Jenkins had the experience to run the offense.
"Everyone has total respectfor her," said Ferguson. "Sometimes you can have a problem with the older kids, but I haven't seen any of that. She is very unselfish andshe's so low key."
"I like having that role," said Jenkins, "but I want everybody else to have a chance. It's a team sport. Everybody has to be in
volved in order for you to win."