Dunbar's return puts Liberty in title race

April 10, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

In a wide-open race for the Carroll County boys lacrosse championship, senior midfielder Jason Dunbar suddenly has emerged to put Liberty on the same page with seven-time defending champion South Carroll and always strong Westminster.

Dunbar and the Lions proved they belonged with the Cavaliers and Owls last week with a 10-4 rout of Westminster.

That same Westminster team had just beaten South Carroll for the first time in seven years and 16 games.

Dunbar had three goals and two assists in the win over Westminster even though he was playing only his third high school game on offense.

In those three games, Dunbar had eight goals and three assists to help Liberty get off to a 2-1 start.

Talk about instant hits.

Where has Dunbar been all these years when Liberty needed him?

Around.

He opted not to play lacrosse his freshman year, was a crease defenseman his sophomore season and decided to work instead of participating in lacrosse as a junior.

If it seems like lacrosse hasn't been all that important to Dunbar in the past, it is true.

Soccer is his No. 1 sport.

All Dunbar did his senior soccer season was lead the county in scoring (10 goals and five assists) and impress enough people to earn a chance to play for Western Maryland this fall.

"Soccer has always been first for me," he said. "I'm set on playing soccer at Western Maryland. But now I'm starting to like lacrosse a lot. Right now, I'd say I prefer soccer when it's in season and lacrosse when it's in season."

Liberty coach Troy Barnes said the reason for Dunbar's quick success is rather simple: "He has a rocket for a shot and hits what he aims for."

Barnes had Dunbar playing attack at the start of the season but switched him to the midfield for two reasons.

"With a shot like that, I wanted him facing the goal and he has good defensive skills to help us at midfield," said Barnes, who then moved senior Mark April from midfield to attack in place of Dunbar.

"I talked to Jason and he told me he wanted to play with a short stick [attack or midfield] and I said 'OK, you can try it and if it doesn't work out, I'll move you back to defense. It's safe to say it has worked out."

Like all good scorers, Dunbar has found various ways to put the ball in the net in the first three games.

He has made some super individual moves, been at the right place at the right time for rebounds and been set up by his teammates.

The soccer standout and quickly developing lacrosse star has especially worked well with the other two members of his midfield unit, seniors Justin Cross and Kevin Mertz.

"Justin and I play together all the time in his backyard where he has a goal and we always know what each other is going to do," said Dunbar.

"And all three of us have played box lacrosse together often."

Barnes said several of his players have taken up box lacrosse and play in summer outdoor leagues, accounting for the improvement of the Liberty boys lacrosse program.

"We like to keep sticks in their hands from March 1 all the way through the summer and into the winter if possible," said Barnes.

In spite of the improvement of the Lions' program, Barnes would not make any predictions on how his team would fare in the

battle for the top spot in the county this spring.

"Jim Langrall [junior varsity coach] and I have high expectations," he said.

"But it's too early to tell how we're going to do in the long run against South Carroll and Westminster. Even North Carroll could come up and be a spoiler."

Dunbar said Barnes is doing his best to keep the Lions from making too much of the victory over Westminster.

"He keeps telling us one game doesn't make a championship team. He's a good motivator and finds a way to get us up for every game."

But will that be enough to supplant South Carroll as seven-time county champions?

Dunbar isn't sure.

"We have to step up and take control of the county race," he said. "We can only hope that we can continue to play like we did against Westminster."

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