For Severna Park's Roberts, Peterson, it was best of years 1993 ALL-ARUNDEL COUNTY GIRLS LACROSSE TEAM

June 02, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Coaches in the county who have watched Severna Park's Stephanie Roberts for four seasons aren't surprised by anything she does on the lacrosse field. They've seen her dominate far too many games over the years, in so many different ways.

South Carroll coach Stacy Stem wasn't familiar with Roberts before last Wednesday's 3A-4A state final, so imagine her reaction after seeing the Falcons' 5-foot-7 tri-captain almost single-handedly swing the momentum in Severna Park's favor.

Roberts finished with two goals and one assist, but more important, she was the player who gave Severna Park the lead and who made sure the Falcons kept it.

"Roberts was something else," Stem said, after the Cavaliers' 14-6 loss. "When she had the ball, it was tough for us to do anything."

Chosen as The Baltimore Sun's 1993 Anne Arundel County Player of the Year, Roberts did everything to lead the Falcons to an undefeated season and their seventh consecutive 3A-4A title.

She had 24 goals and eight assists, using her tremendous speed and strength to outmaneuver opposing defenders. But her offensive skills were only part of the story, and perhaps, not even the most vital.

Playing at defensive wing, she shut down some of the county's most dangerous scorers, including Annapolis junior Cristi Samaras (49 goals, 38 assists) in a regular-season game between previously unbeaten teams.

"She's got it all -- offensive ability and defensive ability," said Severna Park's Carin Peterson, The Baltimore Sun's 1993 Anne Arundel County Coach of the Year.

"She's a true lacrosse player."

And a true leader "both on and off the field, just by her

presence," said assistant coach Elaine Robertson.

"She's a very unselfish player. This year alone, I think she's just grown tremendously. She really came through as a leader, both as a person and as a player."

RF Roberts not only was willing to switch from attack wing this year,

but she also enjoyed the added defensive responsibilities.

"There's not as much pressure to score, and I always think defense first anyway," she said. "I don't think about going to the goal."

Luckily for Severna Park, she thought about it enough times to pull her team out of its lethargy in the state final, when the Falcons trailed three times and were tied 4-4. She was assigned to South Carroll's Tracie DiDio, but when the two teams began exchanging goals, "I felt like I had to take charge," she said.

Roberts will attend Loyola College, where she will be reunited with her sister, Gina. That leaves Peterson with a void to fill.

Then again, she loses great players to graduation every spring and the Falcons never miss a beat. She always seems to stay at least one step ahead of opposing coaches.

For two games against Annapolis, she assigned Roberts to Samaras. For the Region IV semifinal against South River, she put senior midfielder Katie Kuch on Megan Riley (32 goals, 16 assists) and the sophomore attacker went scoreless. In other games, junior defenders Erin McNeally or Kathy McCafferty got the nod. The results were splendid.

"It all depended on how good the midfield for the other team was and how good their line attack was," she said. "You match the player's style and who best fits defensively with that style. I know Stephanie had both speed and patience, and that's what she needed against Samaras. Kuch has speed, and she can stick on a player like you wouldn't believe."

The move of Roberts to defensive wing this spring was done with an eye toward the past, and the future.

"We lost a defense wing last year, and Stephanie is perfect for the position because she knows how to play defense as well as she plays offense," Peterson said. "And she'll probably play it in college, so I gave her a little head start on it."

With more county teams posing a threat to Severna Park the past couple of seasons, it's becoming a greater challenge to reach the state tournament, let alone win it.

"It's getting harder because we have to come out of our region," Peterson said. "If you come out of that region, you've done a pretty darn good job."

Peterson knew when to light a fire under her players and when to lighten up.

"I'd give them days off, let them relax," she said. "Don't practice them too much, don't have practice on weekends, so when they come to me, they come to me wanting to play lacrosse.

"These are high school kids. You have to realize the age you have out there. They have other social activities, and when you get them involved in those, they come back to you with a fresh attitude and ready to play."

Roberts said: "We have the best coach in the state. With her experience, she could be a college coach anywhere. I wouldn't have been good enough to play Division I if she wasn't my coach."

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