Vikings: 'As good as last year, maybe better' Defending champ Hebron looks out for No.1 1993 high school girls lacrosse preview

March 25, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

Atholton Raiders

Allison Valentino, exceptional team speed and non-dominant stickwork are the keys to a repeat playoff appearance by Atholton.

The Raiders are coming off an impressive 8-3-3 season, ended by a 9-8 loss to Catonsville in the first round of the regionals. They tied for third in Howard County with Centennial and Glenelg.

For a postseason return, there will be a strong reliance on Valentino, a senior center/midfielder who has school records in career goals (125) and assists (68). She's a hot commodity among college recruiters, having been offered lacrosse scholarships by Maryland, Old Dominion and Loyola.

"[Valentino] is almost like my quarterback," Stevens said. "She has the ability to size up other defenders and goes into every game double-teamed."

Valentino also is one of seven players who can accelerate fast. Six players are seven-minute milers, and sophomore Kathryn Glasgow is close to 6:00, a reason third-year coach CarolAnn Stevens said, "I have some kids that should be on the track team."

Last, Stevens preps her players to master non-dominant stickwork, a form of controlling a stick with both hands.

"It increases their ability ten-fold," Stevens said. "If a ball is thrown by an opponent, [defenders] have a better chance for interceptions and coming up with the ball."

In all, the Raiders possess a solid nucleus of seven returning starters. On offense, seniors Missy Schoonmaker (second home) and Joy Gilbert (wing), and junior Laura Dustin (first home), will accompany Valentino in the scoring column. They combined for 45 goals and 25 assists in 1992. Sophomore Milessa Hill is a first-year starter at third home.

On defense, the Raiders must compensate for the graduation of goalkeeper Kirsten Kruhm and defender Dana McGraw, starters on junior varsity teams at Maryland and Old Dominion, respectively.

In Atholton's "force-weak" system, in which a defender plays to an opponent's strong hand to force her to the weak side, seniors Christy Saegerson (third man) and Catrine Emilsson (wing) are the leaders.

Centennial Eagles

Centennial's girls lacrosse team is being accorded steep -- but certainly attainable -- goals for the 1993 season.

Coaching a team that returns eight starters from a 9-5 squad, including her three "little spark plugs" in Alison Lages, Paige Nettelbladt and Jamie Fontaine, coach Gail Purcell predicts an 11-1 regular-season record. She also sees this team as possibly Centennial's best in Howard County's six-year history of girls lacrosse.

The Eagles' most successful season was 1990, when they upset Mount Hebron for their only county title. They tied Glenelg and Atholton for third in the county last year at 4-3, losing to Catonsville in the regional finals.

"With the group we have returning and the ability that they possess, we'll go 11-1 if their heads are in the game," said Purcell, a sixth-year coach. "That means if they're focused and taking each game as it comes.

"They feel their challenge is to prove that they're the best team we've ever had to offer at Centennial."

The Eagles are so deep in talent, Purcell says, they "won't lose a step" when subbing. On offense, the Eagles return attackers Lages (senior), Nettelbladt (senior) and Jen Wienecke (junior), who combined for 62 goals and 205 ground-ball controls in 1992. Lages, a third-year starter, is a Division I college lacrosse prospect.

Senior attackers Lilly Hahm and Amber Saunders and sophomore center Emily Ward provide added dimensions.

Centennial is more seasoned on defense, primarily with seniors and third-year starters Renee Svehla (goalkeeper), Sherri Happel point) and Becky Jones (third man). However, junior wing Jamie Fontaine, who recorded 86 ball controls last season, is the catalyst. Other defenders are juniors Patty Lee and Katrina Wolfe.

Lages, Fontaine and Nettelbladt are familiar with each other's tenacity. They teamed last fall on the Eagles' Class 3A state championship soccer team.

Could Centennial's one possible loss be to defending state champion and county nemesis Mount Hebron? The Eagles will have home-field advantage when they clash April 21.

Glenelg Gladiators

Glenelg's girls lacrosse team, specifically with eight starting seniors, will field an experienced squad this spring.

Primarily with that in mind, sixth-year coach Ginger Kincaid is predicting a No. 1, 2 or 3 finish in Howard County. And that's with defending state champion Mount Hebron and always formidable Centennial possibly displaying their finest teams in the county's six-year history of girls lacrosse.

Last season, the Gladiators finished 7-8 overall, losing to Mount Hebron in the opening round of the regionals. They tied for third in the county with Centennial and Atholton.

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