Cavaliers' Onda comes up winner

South Carroll: Senior captain has led her team in scoring for four seasons, but the Cavaliers never had a winning season under her leadership - until now.

Girls lacrosse

April 22, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Leah Onda's glittering lacrosse career at South Carroll always harbored a gap.

The senior captain led her team in scoring since her freshman season, and earned a lacrosse scholarship to Hopkins - accomplishments that would thrill any player.

But she had never showcased her talents on a winning Cavaliers stick squad, and that bothered her. The Cavaliers had losing records her freshman and sophomore seasons, before improving to 7-7 last season.

"It's frustrating to play on a losing team, especially for someone who's worked so hard," Cavaliers coach Bridget Harris said.

Just in time for the three-time All-County player, the Cavaliers finally are experiencing the success Onda longed for. They are 6-1 and, at this point, are almost guaranteed a winning season. And they are 4-0 in the county after Friday's 12-6 win over North Carroll.

"If anyone deserves a winning season, it's her. She lives, breathes and sleeps lacrosse. She's the best player I've ever coached. She encourages others to play at her level, and that's why we're having a winning season," Harris said.

"It's really fun this season," Onda said. "I'm just not used to it [winning]. But I thought this would be a good year, because I saw some really good players coming through the [Freedom Optimist] system."

Respected by her teammates for her outstanding ability, she's a leader on the field, where her speed, strength and accurate, hard shot make her a feared finisher.

She has 175 career goals and 51 assists and scored a career-high 57 goals last season. She has 30 goals this season, including seven goals Tuesday in a victory over Westminster and five in Friday's North Carroll win.

Onda, 5-foot-8, attributes her success to her ability to read the game, endurance and stick skills.

"Strength is a key overall, because it's easy to get pushed around," she said.

Harris said that Onda does everything with power. "She's aggressive, determined and focused 100 percent on the game."

Onda cites a 10-8 victory over Centennial on March 30 as the one that gave the team the confidence it needed to keep winning.

"In the past two years, they [Centennial] killed us by 10 goals each year, and beating them made us realize we're good."

Onda scored five goals against Centennial.

She started playing lacrosse in the third grade because her older brother, Robert, played lacrosse. She had to play on a boys team that first year because there was no girls team.

Robert graduated from South Carroll in 1998, a regional championship year. He now plays at Lynchburg College.

Her boyfriend, Jesse Buppert, also played on that regional championship team and is now a freshman player at UMBC.

"They are always teaching me things," she said.

Onda also started three years for the South Carroll basketball team, where she averaged eight points. And she was a three-time All-County and one-time honorable mention All-State soccer player.

She has been class secretary and a member of the Student Government Association for four years. She's a National Honor Society member with a 4.0 GPA who was an honorable mention National Merit scholar. And she was voted Most Athletic by her senior class.

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