Liberty ready to start its drive for five GIRLS LACROSSE PREVIEW

March 21, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

There is no question about it.

Four-time defending champion Liberty is the team to beat in the Carroll County girls lacrosse race this season.

The Lions only lost three players from last season's 13-1 team and have all the ingredients any lacrosse coach could ask for.

South Carroll, the team that finished with a flourish last season to make the state Class 3A-4A championship game, appears to have the best chance of ending the Lions' four-year reign.

Westminster, 7-5 last season, has lost some key players from that squad but coach Suzanne Peters has a lot of veterans back who are anxious to help the Owls return to the top of the county standings.

Westminster won the championship the first two seasons of girls lacrosse in the county, but has given way to Liberty the past four years.

North Carroll was 2-10 last season, but first-year varsity coach Jodi Shipley said she has high expections this season.

Liberty Lions

All is right with the world for the Liberty High girls lacrosse team.

The Lions are loaded with talent this season and they no longer have to contend with always-powerful Mount Hebron in the 1A-2A regional playoffs.

Mount Hebron has moved up to 3A-4A this season, clearing the way for Liberty to march through the regionals to the state 1A-2A tournament.

It was Mount Hebron that handed Liberty (13-1) its only loss last season, and that setback came in the 1A-2A Region I finals by a 17-7 margin.

Mount Hebron went on to win the state 1A-2A championship.

With Mount Hebron out of the way, Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn admits her team has an excellent chance to make it to the state 1A-2A final four and possibly win it all.

"I'd say we'll go a long way, if we push ourselves and work hard," said Vaughn. "It looks like Loch Raven [last year's runners-up to Mount Hebron] will be the team we have to beat to win a state title."

Most coaches don't like to make such brash predictions before the season starts but Vaughn only lost three starters from last season and can afford to be a little bold.

After all, she has the county Player of the Year back this season in senior attacker Kym Frey, who had 41 assists in 14 games last season. Frey also had 37 goals last season and already holds the Lions' career assists record with 68.

Also returning is senior attacker Megan Horneman, who was a first-team All-Carroll choice last season. Horneman has a lot of speed and scored 36 goals with 10 assists last season.

The impressive list of returnees continues with four juniors who were honorable mention All-Carroll last season.

They are defenders Kerry Adams, Natalie Hannibal and Debbi Bourke and attacker Amie Rose. Bourke has switched to defense from attack but is expected to still be a scoring threat.

All those players were part of Liberty's fourth straight Carroll County girls lacrosse championship last season and are looking for five in a row.

"We've got a pretty strong team," said Vaughn. "Most of my players are fast and can shoot with either hand. Hopefully this is our year."

North Carroll Panthers

The good news is the Panthers have almost everybody back from last season's team and there is speed throughout the lineup.

The bad news is those same players were only able to post a 2-10 record.

But first-year coach Jodi Shipley isn't daunted by the bad news. She prefers to talk about the good news.

"I have high expectations," she said. "We have strong players everywhere. They're experienced and they can run, and these kids are determined to win the close games they lost last year. They want to make amends for last season."

North Carroll only lost one key player from last year's team -- All-Carroll County first-team attacker Tammy Giffi.

Giffi scored 37 goals and it's doubtful if any one player will match that total this season for the Panthers.

However, three senior returning attackers figure to spread the scoring load around more this season. Those veterans are Laura Burkhouse, Amber Sheppard and Gilet Grunland. Another important attacker is expected to be sophomore Stacy Cook, who is one of the speedsters on the squad.

The return of junior Carrie Hale as the No. 1 goalkeeper is a major plus for Shipley.

Hale missed her sophomore season with a wrist injury that occurred during the soccer season. Hale had a superb freshman year in goal and her absence last season had something to do with the North Carroll fall after the team had made the regionals two years ago.

Providing help in front of Hale will be junior defender Laura Kenney and senior defender Erin Diegert.

Shipley moves into the head-coaching position after six years as an assistant and she will call on head North Carroll field hockey coach Denean Koontz and Laura Morrisroe as her assistants.

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