County title whets Cavs' appetite

April 27, 1995|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

The relative ease the South Carroll boys lacrosse team has had in rolling past its past nine opponents would lead you to believe the toughest part of the week comes with a decision made after every Monday practice -- pizza or wings?

It's actually the practices, among other things, that have helped the No. 15 Cavaliers (9-2) make things look easy on game day. Coach Jeff Alisauckas has a motto the Cavaliers live by: "Perfect practices makes perfect games."

Throw in a more comfortable Alisauckas -- now in his second year, a balanced attack up front, and the emergence of a stellar defense that went into the season largely untested. It all has South Carroll (4-0 in the county) looking for its ninth straight county championship tomorrow when it plays Liberty.

Just how dominant have the Cavs been against county foes? In the four wins, the Cavs have scored 55 goals and given up 15. The toughest test came Tuesday against Westminster, an 11-7 victory that clinched a share of the county title.

"We're really happy with the way things are going so far and happy with the way the players have responded to the different situations," Alisauckas said.

"Last year, I came in as a young coach and they may have questioned me a little, but now they have more confidence in me. I also expect a lot from them and they've given their all. There's a lot of pride and discipline in the South Carroll tradition and it remains."

The Cavaliers are looking far beyond the county title. The 7-4 season they had a year ago would be tagged a success by most other schools, but the fact they failed to qualify for the region playoffs for the first time since 1985 left them disappointed and hungry.

"For me personally, it was a heart-breaker," said senior co-captain Jeremy Esworthy. "It's in the back of everyone's mind and has driven us crazy. Right now, we don't want that to happen again."

Senior co-captain Dan Hughes has hinted the Cavaliers already are looking ahead to the region playoffs. And with the way they've been dominating opponents, why not?

Sixth-ranked Centennial and No. 11 Mount Hebron -- the two teams that handed the Cavaliers their only losses early in the season -- and C.M. Wright are all jockeying for playoff position in the Class 3A-4A West region.

"Those are three good teams, but we'll take them on the way we've been on a roll," Hughes said.

A midfielder who was selected the Carroll County Player of the Year in 1994, Hughes is just one part of the Cavs' multifaceted attack.

They have four players -- Tom Luster (26 goals, 16 assists), Rob Witte (26, 10), John Eaton (15, 23 assists) and Hughes (23, seven) -- who have scored at least 15 goals.

"Everyone has their own strong points," Hughes said. "Luster is the shooter on the team, Eaton is our playmaker and Witte just takes it to goal and puts it in. The [midfielders'] jobs are to get the ball up field, shoot some from the outside and get the ball to our attack."

Alisauckas added: "It's a definite plus to have four guys scoring so much, but we also have a lot of other guys."

Midfielders Dave Price, Brian Eybs and Martin Oswiecimka also have played big roles.

Going into the season, Alisauckas and assistant coach John O'Meally switched assignments with Alisauckas -- a defender in his playing days -- taking charge of the defense and O'Meally -- a former attackman -- running the offense.

The change has helped both sides tremendously, but particularly at the defensive end where the Cavs have reassembled without missing a beat.

Tom Shaffer (90 saves, 46 goals against) has been solid in goal in his first full varsity season and has plenty of help in front of him. Senior co-captain Marc Barnes does not go unnoticed in the crease. "I'd rather block a shot and feel the pain before I'd let one in," he said.

Esworthy is a wing defenseman and senior Mike Robitaille is at close defense.

"We knew we had some big shoes to fill and I think we're doing a pretty good job of it," Esworthy said. "We're playing well as a team back there and each covers one another's back. The key in lacrosse is to watch your back and we all know where everyone else is at."

What came into the season as a question mark has turned into a big plus with the Cavs' defense allowing roughly five goals a game.

"They've really pulled together and the three of them are like a little family back there," Alisauckas said.

That's where the pizza and wings come in. Every Monday, a group of players headed by Barnes and Esworthy choose between Pizza Hut and Wing Man. It's a tradition that began during football season.

"It's kind of a big decision," Barnes said.

He added the usual choice is Pizza Hut, but this Monday they found themselves eating wings. Esworthy chowed down 40, while Barnes settled for 10.

So how does a big, tough crease defender get away with eating just 10? "Mom had a big dinner waiting for me -- roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy," Barnes said.

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