For Panthers, sign of the times

Lacrosse: Long considered a doormat in the county, North Carroll's run to the regional championship game last year has expectations high, but the team is grounded in fundamentals

High Schools

March 26, 2000|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A simple sign in a locker room has become a personal motto for the North Carroll boys lacrosse program.

Forget last year's run to the Class 4A-3A West regional championship game. Ignore preseason nods as the favorite to win the county title.

For senior attackman Zach Crisler, taking the sign -- it reads, "We ask one thing and that's give all you've got" -- from the locker room to the playing field is the ultimate objective.

"Our only goal is to give everything we've got in every game," said Crisler, who led the team in goals (36) and points (46) last season. "We just want to go out and play hard."

The newfound attitude is a welcome change for a program that once was regarded as an easy win for opposing teams.

The Panthers endured seasons of 2-10 in 1997 and 0-13 in 1998. Team morale slipped from hopeful to depressing.

But that's when head coach David Dodson organized lacrosse camps during the off-season to improve his players' skills and develop a rapport with them.

The result: North Carroll finished 9-7, sweeping Liberty and gaining a victory against Westminster, South Carroll and Francis Scott Key.

And even though the Panthers were defeated by a superior Westminster team in the regional finals, Dodson was more than pleased with his squad's effort.

"In my mind, I was thinking that if we had a .500 season, that would be great," he said. "After six years of what we've gone through here, I thought it would be remarkable."

Junior goalkeeper Kyle Lettau, who stopped 65 percent of the shots he faced, said the realization that the school was contending for the regional championship didn't dawn on him until the game had started.

"You get in this zone," Lettau said. "All you do is react."

If some opponents were surprised by North Carroll's resurgence, South Carroll head coach John O'Meally was not. O'Meally, who was an assistant coach and scouted the Panthers, said he saw the improvement beginning at the junior varsity level.

"You could see it coming as the guys on the JV team were getting better," O'Meally said. "Their stick skills were improving incredibly, and they had some athletes on that team."

Said Crisler: "We respect every team we play, and we hope we get some respect back."

The new season has created lofty expectations. Although speedy senior midfielder Steve Suter is concentrating on track this season, North Carroll's returnees include Crisler, junior midfielder Kevin Sirman (23 goals and 11 assists), and sophomore attackman Nick Thurston (18 goals and 27 assists).

Sirman said the team is hungry to play.

"In practice, everybody is going 100 percent," he said. "Nobody fools around."

Dodson said he has his eyes on the county crown, but that the only demand he makes of his players is effort.

"If we haven't given everything we've got and we don't go as far as we should have, then I'm unsatisfied," Dodson said. "But if we give 100 percent all the time and we did everything in practice to prepare for a game and it just didn't work out, then I can walk away and say it's been a good year."

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