Vikings' Nelson excels at finding way to goal

April 05, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

Cathy Nelson likes to be creative.

An artist with a lacrosse stick, the Mount Hebron senior will cut or dodge or pass until she finds just the right opening to go to goal.

"What Cathy does is make great decisions," said Vikings coach P. J. Kesmodel. "She's able to go into a crowd and pull back out and not lose the ball. Instinctively, she knows when to make the right cut. You can't teach that. It's like a great running back who has the great moves."

Although Kesmodel put Nelson in the midfield as a freshman, he eventually discovered her true calling was attack. Late in the season when Megan Drake suffered an injury, Kesmodel moved Nelson to first home. She scored five goals and hasn't left the attack since.

"Being on attack gives me a chance to do what I like to do," said Nelson, 17. "It's more like a creative position. On defense and midfield, it's all basics, but on attack, you can do whatever you want to make things happen, and I like that."

Nelson definitely knows how to make things happen. The All-Metro attack player scored 162 goals in her first three seasons. Her 92 goals last season was the most in the state.

With those numbers, Nelson's reputation has gotten around.

"In this state, Cathy Nelson is the name in girls lacrosse," said Mount de Sales goalie Audrey Powers, whose team upset the Vikings Saturday in the Mount Hebron Spring Lacrosse Tournament.

"She's an incredibly smart player and she's very powerful. When she's coming across and cradling strong, you expect a great shot. You never know what she's going to do. On one play she just kind of flipped it backward, and I couldn't believe it."

Nelson scored three goals and added two assists as the No. 6 Vikings fell 12-8 to No. 4 Mount de Sales Saturday. Her two goals helped the Vikings rebound in the consolation game taking a 12-7 win over C. W. Baker, of New York.

Those numbers aren't bad, especially considering Nelson was on crutches just three weeks ago. In one of the Vikings' first practices, Nelson banged knees with a defender and ended up in the emergency room.

At first, she thought it was just a bruise, but at the end of practice, she couldn't run. At the hospital with her dad, she feared the worst.

"After the X-rays, I was so nervous. I thought, 'What are they going to tell me?' The emergency room doctor came in and said stay off it for four -- and my dad looked at me, like, oh no. But he said four days. It was such a relief. I mean, it's your senior year and you don't want to lose it all," said Nelson, who first played lacrosse in middle school at McDonogh.

As Howard County league play gets under way this week, Nelson is not quite back to 100 percent, but she hasn't lost her fabulous moves around the crease.

Speed, quickness, agility and a strong left hand make her lethal one-on-one against the keeper.

"Cathy just knows all the plays," said attack teammate Dani Vissers. "She knows what she's supposed to be and she lets you know where you're supposed to be. If we didn't have her, we wouldn't be nearly as good."

Nelson has been offered several college scholarships, but she's having a hard time deciding where to play next year. She has narrowed her list to Maryland, Virginia and William & Mary.

Aside from making a decision on college, the 3.65 student is focusing on keeping the Vikings on the winning track.

After the loss to Mount de Sales snapped a 37-game winning streak, the Vikings hope to start another victory streak this week.

As a senior, Nelson wants to cap off her career with another state title. The Vikings won the last two Class 1A/2A championships, but this year, they'll go after their first in Class 3A/4A.

"I want to win," said Nelson. "I really don't like losing at all. I think it would be great to graduate with three state championships. I think we can do it; we just have to work."

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