McCulloch cuts down Wright's foes 'Chainsaw' leads lacrosse defense

April 11, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

If Amanda McCulloch had chosen her own nickname, she TC wouldn't have picked "Chainsaw." But if the nickname fits . . .

And McCulloch has worn it through four years as a three-sport standout at C. Milton Wright.

A strong defensive player in lacrosse and soccer, McCulloch can cut off just about anyone going to goal. But one incident during a junior varsity soccer game inspired assistant coach Peter Griffiths to dub her Chainsaw, after the McCulloch power tool.

"She and another girl collided and the other girl broke her leg," said Griffiths. "It was a fluke kind of thing. Amanda's not a dirty player. To my knowledge, she's never even been yellow-carded in a game. She's just a very strong all-out physical player. It probably wouldn't have clicked if she were a small, finesse player."

Although she did not like Chainsaw at first, McCulloch has gotten used to it. At the end of last soccer season, she even thanked Griffiths for making her famous.

"Now I think it's kind of neat," said McCulloch. "With four Amandas on the team at one time, it was good they had that name for me because they could just yell and I knew they were talking to me on the field."

Some of those Amandas also played other sports, so basketball coach Gloria Liedlich picked up the nickname, as did lacrosse coach Kathy Breymaier.

"Even my friends call me that sometimes," said McCulloch.

McCulloch is well-known around the county as one of the top defensive players in all three sports. Her outstanding play in soccer and basketball earned her a spot on The Baltimore Sun's All-County teams in both sports.

"She has great intensity, a never-quit attitude," said Ken Dawson, the Mustangs girls soccer coach. "During a ballgame, she would just stick to you, stick to you, stick to you as a defender. She really kept a lot of pressure on people."

That same tenacity makes McCulloch a standout at lacrosse.

Her versatility, however, has opened up a new challenge this spring. For a Mustangs team that is expected to contend for the Harford County title, McCulloch is being called upon to score more.

"I think attack is harder," said McCulloch. "I'm more comfortable playing defense. When we played Oakland Mills, I was on offense and it felt strange because on all the teams I've played on, except basketball, I've never really had to score before. It was hard, but she [Breymaier] said I would get the hang of it."

Against Oakland Mills, McCulloch scored two goals in a 12-6 win.Wednesday, she scored three more in a 20-8 win over Edgewood.

Offense was never a problem for her in basketball. An excellent baseline shooter, McCulloch averaged 10.1 points to help the Mustangs to a 16-5 season this winter. Not surprisingly, her defense was just a good as she averaged 3.4 steals.

Although she's among the county's best players in all three sports, McCulloch had no trouble narrowing them down to one for college. Nextfall, she'll concentrate on soccer at Radford (Va.) University.

Soccer was the first sport she played -- in clinic at age 5. It was also the first sport in which she became a high school star.

As a sophomore, McCulloch had to mark Joppatowne star Thori Staples, a 1992 graduate and now a member of the United States Women's National Team.

"I was so scared because she was older than me and she was so fast," said McCulloch. "But she only scored one goal that game and we won. Everyone kept telling me we won because of me."

The next year, McCulloch shut Staples down completely, and the Mustangs won again.

"To give up one goal in two years to a player like Thori was really doing an excellent job," said Dawson. "What always impressed me about Amanda was that she worked hard and took everything as a challenge."

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