Wilde Lake girls soccer rises to challenge

Outward Bound session focuses, improves team


October 23, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Rick Belz | Kevin Van Valkenburg and Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Nothing helps mold a cohesive girls soccer team like skipping practice to go rock climbing.

Just ask Wilde Lake.

The Wildecats, 9-4 overall and 6-2 in Howard County, have looked both brilliant and erratic this season, evidenced by their 2-1 upset of then-No. 2 River Hill on Oct. 2, which they followed with a 3-2 loss to unranked Atholton. But during the final two weeks of the county season, arguably no team has been better, as Wilde Lake has earned four straight wins, knocking off Long Reach, Oakland Mills, Centennial and Glenelg by a combined score of 18-4.

The renewed focus and success, says head coach Marcy Leonard, can be at least partly attributed to a day two weeks ago when Leonard decided to cancel practice and spend it instead at the Outward Bound rock climbing camp. Encouraged to work together to accomplish various physical challenges, the Wildecats have been riding the feel-good vibe ever since, and with a win today against visiting No. 13 Mount Hebron (8-3-2, 4-2-2) in their final league game, they can clinch at least a tie for second place in the county.

"It's something I've always wanted to do as a coach, take a team to the Outward Bound school," Leonard said. "I think it worked fairly well. It was a pretty important team bonding exercise."

The results were immediate. Wilde Lake beat Oakland Mills, 8-0, in its next game, then knocked off Centennial (ranked No. 7 at the time), 3-2, in overtime, the third consecutive year the Wildecats have beaten the Eagles. They also beat Glenelg, which was coming off a 4-1 whipping of Mount Hebron.

"We wanted to prove everyone wrong that thought they were better than us," said Wilde Lake's Ali McDonough. "We're really playing together as a team right now. We were a little mad we've been overlooked."

No one is overlooking Wilde Lake now. The Wildecats, in fact, may boast the most potent goal-scoring trio in the league. Kelly Thomas (nine goals), Ashley Pollock (11 goals) and Lynlea Cronin (eight goals) have turned Wilde Lake into an offensive force, while sweeper Julie Hill and goalies Shanley Crutchfield and Alex King have anchored a strong defense.

"We're pumped for Mount Hebron," said Cronin, who also has six assists, and leads the team in total points. "It was one of our goals to beat them at the beginning of the year, and, hopefully, we'll continue to prove people wrong."

In other girls soccer action, No. 6 Hammond (12-1-1, 6-1-1) can win the county title outright with a victory at home today against Atholton (6-4-3, 4-3-1). Game time is 3:15.

Nordhoff to Delaware

All-county lacrosse player Kurt Nordhoff of Mount Hebron has orally committed early to the University of Delaware.

Nordhoff, who led the county in scoring with 52 goals and 33 assists, also considered Georgetown and Towson.

"I fit in best at Delaware," he said.

Nordhoff set the school scoring record for points in a game with seven goals and four assists during the playoffs against North Harford last season.

He expects to sign a letter of intent Nov. 12.

McCarthy carries Vikings

Mount Hebron girls cross country coach Mark Reedy is impressed by newcomer Melissa McCarthy's heart and desire.

McCarthy, who defeated county favorite Carrie Selmer of Glenelg in a four-team meet last week, is a convert from soccer who is best-known as the Vikings' lacrosse captain and is headed to North Carolina on a lacrosse scholarship.

At the beginning of a practice this season, the team was running 1 1/2 miles to reach a trail and was told by Reedy that if one girl walked, then everyone had to walk, with the objective of keeping everyone running.

When one girl cramped up with a quarter-mile to go, McCarthy threw the girl on her back and ran the last quarter-mile carrying her.


Two Howard County football teams posted impressive all-around efforts in important league wins over the weekend. Mount Hebron broke a three-game losing streak with a 41-0 victory over Atholton thanks to wide receiver John Zabel, who caught seven passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown and had seven tackles and two pass break-ups on defense.

And River Hill, which thumped Centennial, 40-13, got a surprise from Adrian Cmerek. Normally an offensive guard, Cmerek stepped in at fullback because of injuries and rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns.

It also didn't distract Cmerek from his usual duties as a the leader of the Hawks defense, where he made 17 solo tackles and six assists from his middle linebacker position.

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