Two years ago, there was no men's lacrosse team at Harford Community College. Tomorrow, Harford is home against SUNY-Farmingdale, which is ranked No. 1 among the two dozen junior colleges that field teams, and it's not a mismatch.
Growing pains have been minimal in Bel Air, where coach Frank Mezzanotte quickly caught up to state kingpins Anne Arundel and Essex, the defending NJCAA champion. Both beat Harford by one goal in March, but Tuesday the Fighting Owls, who are ranked No. 7, defeated No. 5 Anne Arundel.
Mezzanotte stepped down at Edgewood High after winning his third state title in 1989. He took one year off, then gathered together some former coaching rivals on his Harford staff last spring. Dave Volrath came over from Fallston; he and Mezzanotte were as responsible as anyone for giving Harford County high schools an identity in the state tournament.
"I wanted to do something for the county," Mezzanotte said of the move to HCC. "The game has grown tremendously here in the last 15 years, and now the community is getting the chance to see another level of lacrosse. What makes it neat is that we're doing it with kids I used to bang heads against."
Harford's top player might be sophomore midfielder Colin Carr, a native of Manchester, England, who attended Fallston as an exchange student. Three other Fallston graduates start, and Mezzanotte estimates that 30 of his 35 players are from Harford County.
Their options limited in recent years, many went to Essex. The top midfielder at Essex, Andy Martin, played for Mezzanotte at Edgewood.
Harford attackmen Jeff Blum (Fallston) and Brad McLean (C. Milton Wright) first attended Essex, as did defenseman Dave Eddinger (Fallston). When Essex plays Harford April 22 at C. Milton Wright, the state's berth in the NJCAA semifinals probably will be the prize.
* WELCOME BACK: Johns Hopkins (17-2) is No. 13 among the nation's Division III baseball teams, and the record and ranking might be better had not third baseman Sean Holub missed the Blue Jays' Florida trip last month.
A junior from Sparks who prepped at Boys' Latin, Holub separated a shoulder diving back to the bag after a double against St. Mary's March 10. He didn't go to Florida, where Hopkins went 7-2. Holub is hitting .592, and in just nine games he has collected five home runs and 17 RBI.
Senior pitcher Jeff Fang has a 4-1 record and 24 career wins, two shy of the Blue Jays' record. They are at Washington College for a doubleheader Saturday (1 p.m.).
* CLIMB THE LADDER: Loyola has climbed to No. 5 in the women's lacrosse rankings, and the Greyhounds (5-1) have the opportunity to grab one of the first-round byes in the six-team NCAA tournament.
Coach Diane Aikens has three more home games at Curley Field, and Loyola had better be ready. Next Wednesday, Loyola gets No. 1 Harvard. On April 21, the Greyhounds play No. 3 Virginia. They conclude the regular season April 28, against No. 2 Maryland.
The 6-0 Terps play at Harvard on Saturday.
* ONE-MAN TEAM: Mount St. Mary's junior Rob Pendergist, who won the Florida Relays decathlon last month with a score of 7,638 points, could enter as many as eight events when the Mountaineers play host to the Northeast Conference track and field championships Saturday (10 a.m.). Several of his teammates are ailing, and the Mount will be hard pressed to overtake Fairleigh Dickinson.