Dick Watts shakes his head in wonder when he recalls Steve Marohl's first days of lacrosse at UMBC in the fall of 1988.
Fresh from South River High in Edgewater, Marohl stood 5 feet 11 and weighed all of 130 pounds -- a spindly look that kept all but a few Division I schools from showing interest in him.
"No one was beating down doors," Watts said. "Here was this skinny, red-cheeked kid who didn't even look like he belonged in high school. It's amazing how he turned into such a success."
Marohl plays his final college game today against Maryland, and he finishes his career with more records than he can shake his lacrosse stick at.
In addition to a host of school records, including 238 career points, the senior attackman broke the NCAA single-season assists mark of 73 shared by Cornell's Tim Goldstein and Yale's John O'Neill. He collected five assists, raising his total to 75, in last Saturday's loss to Towson State.
"Steve proved against Towson he's for real," Watts said. "People say we play the Drexels and Colgates, but he showed he can dish off against anybody. Sure, there are other good attackmen out there, but Steve passed an NCAA milestone. I hope he's recognized for it."
Marohl treasures the NCAA assists record above the others he holds -- because it came against Towson State.
"That was the most important one," he said. "If I can play well against a defense like Towson State's, I must be doing something right."
Marohl grew during his UMBC career to 175 pounds and so did his lacrosse numbers.
In his first 37 games, he had 106 points; in his past 18, he has had 126. Marohl had contributed at least one assist in 28 consecutive games until halted by Loyola two weeks ago.
Marohl has tried to model himself after two local attackmen, Loyola's Jim Blanding and Towson State's John Blatchley. He has watched films of UMBC's games against those teams, focusing on Blanding and Blatchley.
"Jim has great feet, helping him get away from defenders," Marohl said. "John has a great ability to find the open man."
Arley Marshall, a longtime club lacrosse coach in his third year as an assistant to Watts, has helped Marohl refine his skills.
"He emphasizes little things that have improved my game tremendously," Marohl said. "Like, he says always to look back to the man who gave you the ball. The defender might have dropped off him, and he might have an open shot if you give it right back to him."
UMBC's 10-4 record this season is its best since 1980, but Marohl is not likely to conclude his career with an appearance in the NCAA tournament. Even an upset of Maryland (7-4) probably wouldn't put the Retrievers into the 12-team field that will be selected tomorrow.
UMBC lost to two top 10 teams, Loyola and Towson State, was upset by Virginia Military Institute and lost to Penn State in overtime.
"Steve has been a big part in our going from losing to winning records," Watts said. "It's a shame we're not likely to be considered for the tournament, so he could be part of something even better."
Steve Marohl on a roll
NCAA all-time single-season assists: 75 (1992)
UMBC career points: 238
UMBC career assists: 135
UMBC single-game assists: 12 vs. Penn (1992)
A UMBC first: 100 goals, 100 assists