Around The Area

Boys Lacrosse

March 20, 2002

Anne Arundel County

It's like every year in Anne Arundel County, the state's best league next to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association: Several teams return top talent, but there's no guarantee which ones will be left standing when the dust clears.

State runners-up Arundel (Class 4A-3A), South River (3A-2A) and Southern (2A-1A) should all be in a fight to the finish, as will defending county champion Broadneck and always difficult Severna Park.

Annapolis has a new coach in Joe Keenan, a former All-Metro defender at St. Mary's in 1994 who played at North Carolina. Keenan likes what he sees in his Panthers, particularly in team captain Matt O'Neil and a few others whom he expects to make it difficult for opposing teams.

Baltimore City

Edmondson swept Patterson in finishing undefeated in the city league and capturing the city title last season.

Patterson (12-5), which had won four city championships in the previous six years, expects to be the team to beat, as the Clippers return eight starters, including midfielders David Brunetti and Richard Dodd, goalie Gino Zarro and attackmen Phillip Matthews and Charles Coughman.

Mervo (9-6) returns the city's top scorer Simon Benjamin (52 goals, 47 assists) and the entire defense for the second straight year.

Edmondson (11-1) has defender Donald Jackson and Douglass returns big-game attackman Marcus Thompson. Walbrook, Carver, City, Poly and Forest Park are all capable.

Baltimore County

Dulaney, a two-time defending Class 4A-3A state champion, and Pikesville, last year's 2A-1A titlist, look yet again to be the class of Division I, the county's premier conference.

But Franklin and Towson (10-4) could vie for the division and 3A-2A state titles. Eastern Tech should contend with Hereford, Catonsville and Perry Hall.

Last year's Division II champion, Owings Mills (12-2), has moved up, leaving Dundalk, Kenwood, Lansdowne, Loch Raven, Patapsco and Woodlawn to vie in Division II.

Milford Mill returns Anthony Bass, Chesapeake has George Diaz and Overlea has goalie Jake Moro to challenge Division III champion Sparrows Point and attackman Sam Nicolette.

Carroll County

Westminster (11-5), which advanced to a Class 4A-3A regional final a year ago, looks to be particularly strong on defense, with the return of All-County choices Brian Roche and Drew Walters. The team features several three- or four-year varsity starters, as well as Long Reach transfer Andrew Gehringer.

Defending county champion North Carroll (14-3) lost quite a bit to graduation, but should remain competitive. It returns five starters, including possibly the best two attackmen in the county in Nick Thurston and Jamie Masimore.

South Carroll (5-9), which beat Westminster last year, lost just one midfielder and one defender to graduation.

Francis Scott Key could be a sleeper.

Harford County

Fallston won the Class 3A-2A state championship a year ago, but could not manage to claim the title in its own back yard. C. Milton Wright won the Harford County crown, going 6-0 against the league and finishing 15-3 overall.

Fallston and C. Milton Wright should be the favorites yet again, although Fall- ston opens with a tough pair of non-league games against 4A-3A champion Dulaney on Thursday and 2A-1A champion Pikesville on Friday.

North Harford, which last year suffered its first losing season (4-12) since 1978, goes into this season with the third-best team, followed by Bel Air. North Harford coach John Grubb returns starters Dan Petty, Chris Sluss and Nick Mezzanotte on attack.

Howard County

Mount Hebron (12-4) is the defending county champion and features the county's best player in Kurt Nordhoff (52 goals, 33 assists), but the Vikings have a new coach in Tom Minard, who moved over from Long Reach, and they will face a terrific challenge from Centennial.

The Eagles (11-4) won a regional title last season with a young team. They return 21 players, including second-team All-County midfielder Evan Calvert, largely regarded as the league's second-best player. The Eagles also have a second-team All-County goalkeeper in Dan Whitehurst.

Glenelg will be competitive, featuring second-team All-County attackman Pat Beall. Regional finalist Oakland Mills (12-5) returns its leading scorer, Sean McElroy.

Private schools

It's another year in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference in which the coaches don't want to set up their teams as the front-runner. Loyola is the defending champion, but it is doubtful that the Dons can go unbeaten through a balanced league including runner-up McDonogh, Boys' Latin, St. Mary's, Gilman, Severn, Mount St. Joseph, Calvert Hall and Friends.

In the B Conference, the coach for Archbishop Spalding, Walter Blahut, says he has "the best team I've ever coached," a contention that will be challenged by last year's runner-up, Annapolis Christian and Sts. Peter & Paul, last year's C Conference champion that has moved up into the B Conference.

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