Mount Hebron's boys lacrosse team once again had all the ingredients necessary to produce an excellent season. Strong fundamentals, great defense, midfield depth and a variety of scoring threats combined to make the Vikings the class of the county and nearly state champions for the second straight year under coach Warren Michael.
Every great team has its indispensable parts. And when looking at the Vikings, two players -- senior midfielder Jason Vettori and senior goalie Chris Parandian -- stand out as ones whose absences would have left Hebron with the largest holes to fill.
Vettori and Parandian are the Howard County Sun's Co-Players of the Year.
Where would Hebron have been without Vettori's all-around play or Parandian's exceptional performances in the net?
The Vikings (15-3) probably would have remained competitive, but it's doubtful they could have gone undefeated against the county for the fourth time in five years, or come within one victory of their third state title in five seasons. Hebron lost to Towson, 8-7, in the Class 1A/2A final.
Vettori, a three-year starter who is headed to Duke on a lacrosse scholarship, wound up a distinguished high school career with his best season.
"He is the best overall player I've ever had, because he has no real weakness," Michael said. "He's bright, he's physical, he picks up the ball well, he shoots well, he dodges well, and when he wants to, he plays defense well."
Vettori, who also played attack occasionally, brought a rare combination of toughness and finesse to the field. His field sense and vision allowed him to make passes many players wouldn't attempt. His two-handed stickwork allowed him to score on acrobatic shots as well as the high-percentage kind. And he was equally comfortable battling for ground balls or dishing out body checks any defenseman would admire.
Vettori led the Vikings in scoring with 35 goals and 29 assists, scoring at least two points in every game. He also came through in Hebron's biggest games.
His four-goal, two-assist effort sparked the Vikings to a 10-7 victory over then-unbeaten C. Milton Wright, a midseason turning point for Hebron. He also produced three-goal, three-assist games in regional playoff victories over Hammond and Glenelg.
Vettori also was invaluable as a faceoff man, one of the critical roles in the game. After splitting faceoff duty with Blair Hill, Vettori took the job following a knee injury to Hill during the regular season. He wound up winning 130 of 178 faceoffs, for a school-record 73 percent success rate. He won 75 percent of the faceoffs in the state final against Towson.
Parandian came somewhat out of nowhere. After assuming the starting goalie job midway through his junior season, Parandian -- who transferred from Mount St. Joseph's last year -- turned into an outstanding player this spring.
"I can't take much credit for him," Michael said. "All I did was work on his clearing and on cutting off [shooting] angles. He did the rest."
At 5 feet 9 inches, 150 pounds, Parandian was not an imposing presence in the net. But his hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes and smarts provided more than enough compensation.
He made 250 saves, averaging 14 per game. He allowed only 98 goals, or 5.5 per game. And he saved 72 percent of the shots he touched. He often sparked Hebron's potent transition game with excellent clearing passes.
"It got to the point during the season when I counted on him making saves, instead of counting on the defensemen stopping them. That's really not fair to the goalie," Michael said. "He works with the defensemen real well, and he's good at scouting opponents. He's always studying other goalies."
Indeed, Parandian gave Hebron a hint of things to come in the season-opening, 7-4 defeat against Mount St. Joseph's. He made 19 saves that day.
He followed that game with a list of highlights, including a 21-save effort against C. Milton Wright and 15-save games against Centennial and Glenelg. Parandian also saved his best for last. His 20 saves were the difference in the Vikings' 11-10, double-overtime victory over Fallston in the 1A/2A semifinal. And against Towson in the final, he recorded 18 saves.
Parandian will play lacrosse at Lehigh University.
The 1992 Howard County Sun All-County boys lacrosse team
Player.. .. .. .. Position.. School .. .. .. Year
Cullen Meade.. .. Attack.. ..Centennial.. .. Sr.
Tom Huppmann.. .. Attack.. ..Mount Hebron.. .Sr.
Keith Chance.. .. Attack.. ..Hammond.. .. .. Sr.
Werner Krueger.. .Midfield.. Centennial.. .. Jr.
Tommy Lea.. .. .. Midfield ..Hammond.. .. .. Jr.
Jason Vettori.. ..Midfield.. Mount Hebron.. .Sr.
Andy Armiger.. .. Defense.. .Centennial.. .. Sr.
Matt Stromberg.. Defense.. ..Mount Hebron.. .Sr.
Andrew Pillinger..Defense.. .Mount Hebron.. .Sr.
Chris Parandian.. Goalie.. ..Mount Hebron.. .Sr.
Coach of the Year: Mike Siegert, Centennial
Co-Players of the Year: Jason Vettori and Chris Parandian, Mount Hebron