Mount Hebron goes on defensive in effort to stay atop standings Centennial stands ready to challenge Vikings

March 22, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Julie Kickham will do anything to help Mount Hebron's girls lacrosse team.

Even play offense.

Kickham was Mount Hebron's best defensive player last year. But coach Chris Robinson has moved Kickham to center this season, one of many changes affecting the four-time defending state champions.

The biggest change, of course, involves Robinson.

After four years as an assistant, the first two coaching the junior varsity, Robinson takes over for P.J. Kesmodel, who began the Vikings' program in 1988. Kesmodel, a guidance counselor at Mount Hebron, retired after eight seasons with a 114-12 record, including four state, seven county and eight regional titles.

"You don't replace someone like P.J.," Robinson said. "You continue on with his philosophy and beliefs and coach with your own style."

The Vikings graduated a lot of talent off last year's 16-1 team, including seven starters and the top four scoring leaders. Of the 24 varsity players this season, seven are seniors.

"It's a year that everybody thinks we're going to be down," said Robinson. "I think we'll surprise a lot of people."

Robinson admits that this year's team unlike past years "can't ring up a victory by just walking out on the field. But I think we can beat anybody in the state, no doubt about it. We just have to get all the components working."

With a strong defense led by Brigitte Goss, Kristin Midura and Erin Curran, the Vikings biggest question mark is their attack.

"The tradition here is that we've had great athletes who could score," Robinson said. "We always scored a ton of goals. We never had to play a lot of defense. This year is different.

"Our offense is extremely young and inexperienced, but talented. It needs time to develop. As soon as it gets some game experience, we'll be a dangerous team again. But our defense will be key for us early in the season."

The Vikings got their season off to a good start yesterday, as junior Cecelia Randazzo scored six goals and Kickham four in an 18-6 win over visiting Fallston.

Robinson is counting on Kickham, an all-county defender last season, to make a smooth adjustment to offense.

"We need to get a lot of people involved in the offense and we need her to do that," said Robinson. "She's like our point guard out there. We need her to score and get a lot of assists."

Kickham was not surprised by the move, and worked on her offense and conditioning during the off-season.

"I really like playing defense, but I'll do whatever it takes to help my team," said Kickham, who signed a full scholarship to play lacrosse next season at North Carolina. "It's different because I have to cover the whole field."

Robinson is excited about his team's potential, but knows Centennial, returning 10 players with starting experience, poses a threat. The Eagles won the county title in 1990, the only year Mount Hebron hasn't won it.

"If they [Centennial] have any shot, this is the year," Robinson said. "Based on their returning talent, they should be the favorite in our county."

Said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid: "I think they [Centennial] have the athletes to do it."

Centennial, which lost its only two games last season to Mount Hebron, has its three leading goal-scorers back Becca Armiger (48), Jen Simon (45) and Gina Dinisio (44). It also has talented athletes that know how to win.

"We have a lot of state championship experience in the school," said Centennial coach Gail Purcell, referring to the girls that have played for this year's state champion field hockey and soccer teams."

The Eagles' biggest concern is at goalie, where Teresa Cabanilla has replaced Katie Garrity, who moved to Texas. Cabanilla has no experience at the position.

"Ms. Purcell asked me about playing goalie in November," said Cabanilla. "If I wasn't playing goalie, I wouldn't be playing at all because of my knee. I want to play."

Naturally, Cabanilla is nervous.

"I'm worried that we're going to lose games because of me," Cabanilla. "My teammates have been very supportive, and I got help over the winter from [boys goalie] Reed Gralia. Our defense is really strong. That should help."

Purcell, who said she will retire from coaching lacrosse following this season, is pleased with Cabanilla's progress.

"She's done some very, very good things for a first-year goalie," said Purcell, who is 83-23 over eight seasons. "I think she's going to come through for us."

While Centennial might gave Mount Hebron a run for the county title they play each other April 23 at Mount Hebron Howard is anxious to take on the Eagles.

"We're definitely going to beat Centennial," said Howard's Erica Hensley, an all-county senior who finished third among county scoring leaders last season with 55 goals and 19 assists.

Howard, which finished fifth in the county last year, lost twice to Centennial last season, including an 11-9 defeat in the regionals.

Oakland Mills and Hammond tied for third in the county last year and look to improve. The Scorpions, the only team in the league beside Mount Hebron and Centennial to have an overall winning record last season, have two all-county players returning in Anne Ryder and Elizabeth Koza.

"Two years ago we reached the region semifinals and last year the region final," said Oakland Mills coach Chris Marsiglia. "We'd like to take it a step further this year."

Wilde Lake, Glenelg and Atholton combined for only four wins in the county and seven wins overall last season. They all expect to improve this season and look forward to the open tournament format in which all teams qualify.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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