North County keeper Matt Fundakowski received the good news early.
"At the beginning of the season, we told him he doesn't have any shoes to fill at all," said Knights lacrosse coach Paul Shea. "All he has to do is come out and do what's expected of him -- nothing more, nothing less."
And not worry about trying to duplicate the feats of last season's goalie, Tim McGeeney, the Anne Arundel County Sun's Player of the Year who now starts at Loyola College.
"Naturally, it's very easy to compare keepers, but we're not making any comparisons at all," Sheasaid. "If he just comes out and gives us a good, steady performance and a consistent performance each day and each game, then we'll be successful."
Fundakowski did his part in North County's 9-4 win overvisiting Old Mill yesterday, coming up with five saves after giving up two early goals. He stopped 13 shots in Friday's 10-1 rout of Northeast.
"He hasn't had a bad game yet," Shea said.
He did get off to a bad start yesterday, allowing goals to Mike Majoros and Dave Welsch on Old Mill's first two shots. The latter goal tied the score, 2-2, with 1 minute, 40 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Fundakowski, a senior who backed up McGeeney last spring, made a save to end the quarter. The Knights then ran off the next seven goals to lead,9-2, before Old Mill's Dave Gray scored with 3:52 left in the game. Fundakowski was replaced late in the fourth quarter and didn't allow the Patriots' final goal.
"Playing behind (McGeeney) last year, hewas the perfect model," Fundakowski said. "Whatever I saw him do, I'd try to do."
Unlike McGeeney, Fundakowski has a young defense in front of him. All of last year's starting defensemen who helped NorthCounty to the Class 4A-3A state finals have graduated, including first-team All-County selection Joe Ross and second-team member Karl Wick.
"We have freshmen and first-year players starting now," he said. "I have to do my best to lead the defense."
The offense still has some veteran leaders, like junior attackmen Greg Sabo, who had fourgoals and an assist yesterday, and Andy Mocarsky (two goals, one assist). Senior midfielder Andy Ross (one goal, two assists) also returns, giving the Knights what Sabo called "a strong nucleus."
"We knew we were going to have to rebuild after losing our whole defense," he said. "We also knew we were going to have to keep the ball on the offensive end and be more deliberate. But our defense is really comingalong. It's improved dramatically since the first game."
The Knights start two freshmen -- attackman Ian Stevenson (one goal, one assist) and defenseman Chris Lamy -- and seven sophomores made the varsity. They lost three of their first four games, including a 16-6 rout at Severna Park on April 1 -- before winning their last two.
"Our plan was to come out and practice hard and play hard every day and make improvements with each game. And I think we are. We're beginning toreally see some light at the end of the tunnel," Shea said.
"We lost a couple of games where we thought that we were just a play or two away from winning. We turned those mistakes around and had a good night on Friday against Northeast, and we had another good outing today. We're making strides, and I can see us being more than just a spoiler this year."
Junior midfielder Lauren Reich scored one goal yesterday, and junior midfielder Shawn Moyer had two assists. Gray netted two goals for Old Mill, and senior midfielder Melvin Carter had twoassists.
Patriots keeper Scott Wolfe made 11 saves, and sophomorereserve Kelly Barr stopped two shots in the closing seconds.