Howard County

Boys Lacrosse

March 21, 2001|By KEVIN VAN VALKENBURG

The more things change in Howard County boys lacrosse, the more they seem to stay the same. Once again, Mount Hebron will begin the season as the favorite, but the feeling throughout the league is that the gap between the best and the rest is much smaller than it has been in several years.

Interestingly, no one agrees more than Mount Hebron coach Jeff Doolan, and he is quick to point out that the Vikings return only two starters from last year's powerful squad that went 17-2 and lost in the state semifinals.

"We've got some big gaps to fill," Doolan said. "On paper, we certainly don't look like the favorite."

For starters, however, the Vikings have two of the best players in the area returning in senior goalie Dan Valente and senior attackman Mike Selawski. Selawski, a 6-foot-5 left-hander, scored 46 goals and had 26 assists last season and is one of the best finishers in the league. He's signed to play at Johns Hopkins this fall. Valente, an All-County selection as a sophomore and junior, will tend goal at Hobart College next season.

The ace up Doolan's sleeve will be Jeff Wunk and Kurt Nordoff, two players who missed all last season because of injuries and illness. Both were selected to play in the off-season on Maryland's Bay State Team, along with Selawski, an all-star team that brings together the best lacrosse players in the state.

Nipping close at the Vikings' heels will be Glenelg and Centennial. The Gladiators will be competitive thanks to the skill of Ben Dougherty, a senior midfielder whom many coaches consider is the top player in the county. Dougherty scored 47 goals and had 12 assists as a junior, and won 65 percent of his faceoffs. "He's a real consistent player," Glenelg coach Rich Kincaid said.

Centennial will field a young but talented squad that includes 12 sophomores and a freshman. However, the Eagles do have four quality seniors - Wyatt Cooper, Bryan Compton, Mike Walch and Sean Buttani. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Cooper, also an All-County football player, will provide a strong physical presence on the field.

Hammond will field a strong squad that could challenge for one of the top spots. Coach Dave Griffin thinks his team will be strong offensively, and will be led by some quality returners in midfielder Gabe Katz, defender Jeff Hutchenson and attackman Kevin Dietsch.

Oakland Mills and River Hill were hit hard by graduation, losing two of the county's top performers in Steve Blakely and Scott Kenworthy, but should field competitive teams that could challenge for a spot in the upper half of the league.

Wendell Thomas takes over at Howard after a long tenure at as Atholton's coach, and will look to build excitement for a program that has gone winless in the county the past two seasons. Justin Szewski and Phil Thomas, Wendell's son, will lead the Lions.

Long Reach, which had an extremely positive season last year, going 7-9, was hit hard by graduation, losing nine starters. However, the Lightning has three quality seniors in midfielders Matt Nesbit and Pat Tedesco, and attackman Cory Woods. Long Reach coach Tom Minard says Nesbit could be one of the five best players in the league.

Wilde Lake will look to rebuild after graduating eight starters, and will look for leadership from senior goalie Nick Ebright and senior midfielder Eric Stull.

First-year coach Josh Bound takes over at Atholton after coaching the JV last season. Glenelg Country is coming off a 10-2 season in which it reached the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship, but graduated its 12 top players. Senior midfielders Sebastian Mankowski and Gavin Carter should help the Dragons remain tough.

Chaplegate has a solid corps of returners, led by seniors Eric Wright; Jarred Drown; Dan Floyd; and Carter O'Sullivan.

Players to watch

Ben Dougherty

(Glenelg, senior, attacker)

Tallied 47 goals and 12 assists as a junior

Dan Valente

(Mount Hebron, senior, goalie)

Three-year starter is one of the area's best goalies

Mike Selawski

(Mt. Hebron, senior, attacker)

6-foot-5 left-hander with speed is headed to Hopkins next year

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