Loch Raven threesome takes a stand on defense Rewarding challenge: Sharon Huesman, Bridget Harthausen, Christa Verleger learn to appreciate other side of line.

April 05, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

When they first started playing lacrosse, Loch Raven defenders Sharon Huesman, Bridget Harthausen and Christa Verleger all wanted to play attack.

"Attack players get a lot of recognition and nobody ever knows anything about me," said Huesman, with a laugh.

Eventually, their thirst for attention gave way to what they now consider the toughest and most rewarding challenge in lacrosse -- playing line defense.

"I love it now," said Huesman.

Verleger agreed. "I wouldn't trade it for attack. It's fun being down low and being able to come up with the ball and revive the play. And it's a challenge to keep good defensive positioning so you can get your girl to pull to the weak side, to make her go where you want her to go."

On defense, it's all a matter of time. Not just in learning to like the positions, but in learning to play them well.

Although Harthausen started playing in a rec league in sixth grade, Huesman and Verleger never picked up lacrosse sticks until they arrived at Loch Raven. All three spent time on JV honing their skills and learning the finer points of defense.

Last season, they became a unit and it didn't take long for them to click.

"What makes them so good is that they've worked for so many years together," said Raiders coach Wendy Galinn. "It's almost like they know where each other is going to be at the right time."

Huesman, Harthausen and Verleger agree that the trick to a good defense is not physical superiority but mental superiority. All three carry grade-point averages over 3.5 and Verleger's is 3.9. The choices they make on the field are just as smart as the ones they make in the classroom.

"You have so many decisions to make," said Harthausen. "You have to see everything. You have to watch the ball, watch your person, watch all around you and you have to know when to double, when to triple, when to help. There's so much you have to do all at one time."

Galinn, a former defensive player, has a knack for turning raw talent into incredibly stingy defenders. Nowhere is this trio better than on the crease. With quick thinking and tight positioning, they usually can force a weak shot, a turnover or a charge.

"I like it when teams take the ball back behind the cage," said Galinn, "because we are very, very strong there. All three of them know how to play an attack player one-on-one and they're not going to come in without charging. If we have a strength on the field, that's it right now."

Although this is only their second year as starters, the three are the team's veterans. With just six seniors on the roster, the Raiders are younger than they have been in at least a decade.

Huesman, Harthausen and Verleger know that means they could face a lot more action while their younger teammates develop in the midfield and on attack. But now, they said, they feel comfortable and confident enough to handle it.

Still, a lot rides on their leadership. They are well aware of the Raiders tradition that includes four state titles, 20 Baltimore County championships and an all-time record of 270-8-1 in 23 years.

Recent history is just as impressive. The No. 6 Raiders started off this season 2-0 to run their winning streak to 34 games. They also have won back-to-back state Class 1A/2A titles and eight straight county championships.

"Because we're Loch Raven, we're supposed to win," said Verleger. "It is a lot of pressure, especially when you look at the difference between this year and last year. We lost so many seniors and we have so much inexperience, but we feel pretty confident in ourselves that we can keep the tradition going on."

Pub Date: 4/05/96

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