Annapolis' Dirks ready again to go on attack Panthers' third home knows how to move

March 19, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Even Kelly Dirks has to watch the game videotapes sometimes to believe some of the fantastic things she does on the lacrosse field.

"I watched the tape of the first Severna Park game last year and I saw myself go through three people and score," said the sometimes unstoppable Annapolis junior attacker. "I didn't realize I had done that."

Dirks scaled a lot of heights as a sophomore that didn't sink in until she stood up at her spring sports banquet to be honored.

"I didn't know I had made honorable mention All-America or first-team All-Met or scored that many goals [58 and 28 assists] until I was standing there in front of all those people," she said. "I did remember scoring four goals that day against Severna Park."

That four-goal, one-assist performance in the first of two victories over Severna Park last season for unbeaten Annapolis (20-0) easily rates as her finest lacrosse hour, said Panthers coach Dave Gehrdes.

"The Severna Park defense was collapsing and sagging on her but she still caught the ball and put it in the net," said Gehrdes. "She catches everything around the goal and knows how to finish. Kelly is one of those upper-echelon players who learned real quickly how to use her right or left hand to handle the ball."

What made Dirks' sophomore scoring spree even more unbelievable was the fact she wasn't considered the top gun on the top-ranked Annapolis team.

That honor was reserved for All-Metro Player of the Year Amy Brew, who was playing on the wing and racking up 60 goals and 29 assists -- just two goals and one assist more than Dirks had.

Dirks played third home on attack last year and returns to that position this season.

"I think sometimes I'd like to play on the wing," said Dirks. "But I have a lot of important duties at third home on our team. I have to go down and double on defense, cut to get open on offense and play behind the goal. I'd rather be out in front of the net because playing behind the goal is an art in itself."

Unlike many players, Dirks has no one favorite move to score on. Whatever works for the moment is what she does.

"I'll visualize in the backyard certain plays that might be successful," Dirks said. "Out of season, I touch the ball at least once a day not because I should but because I love the game. I play catch a lot in the yard with my sister, Kristy, who probably will be playing on the varsity as a freshman with me next year."

Dirks also plays indoor lacrosse and often goes to the Naval Academy with her friends to play outdoors on the Midshipmen'swell-conditioned fields.

She now is taking up lacrosse officiating in Annapolis youth leagues and played on the Chesapeake National Schoolgirl team last summer.

Her life has been almost a nonstop lacrosse odyssey since she started to play in the fifth grade after being a driven soccer player and swimmer from ages 5 to 10.

"Kelly would always get upset if she was taken out of soccer games even when she was five," said her mother, Terry.

"I expect a lot from myself," said Dirks, who might be the best player in the Baltimore metro area this season. "Sometimes that is bad. If I miss a pass, I get upset because I'm always geared to getting open, passing and catching the ball."

Dirks also expects Annapolis to fend off challenges from St. Mary's, Severna Park and Notre Dame Prep this season to claimthe No. 1 metro area ranking for the second straight year.

"Our team is so united that I think we can be No. 1 again," she said. "We are so close that we never have anything we can't share. My biggest thrill was winning the states last year [11-10 overtime victory over Mount Hebron for Class 3A-4A state championship] and I want to repeat."

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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