Nicolaus is rock in goal for Hebron

Her work helps Vikings thwart Liberty bid, 11-7

Class 3A-2A girls lacrosse

May 16, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

For 50 heart-pounding minutes yesterday, the smallest girl on the field stood on her toes, pursed her lips and wielded her stick like it was a magic wand.

By doing so, Mount Hebron goalie Cindy Nicolaus simply broke Liberty's heart in the Class 3A-2A North Region girls lacrosse final.

Oh, how the Lions had chances. For stretches yesterday, No. 4 Liberty put a scare into No. 1 Mount Hebron like no team had done all season. But it was Nicolaus' artful brilliance in net that made the difference, as her 16 saves led the way to an 11-7 Vikings victory.

"We got really tested today, but the defense really stepped up," said Nicolaus, a four-year starter who will play for Loyola College next season. "It was nerve-wracking and frustrating because their offense is so good; they kept getting shots.

"I didn't know what to tell my defense because when they kept getting shots, we were wondering, `What the heck was going on out there?' "

What was going on was that Liberty (15-2) was focusing a year's worth of energy and intensity in Mount Hebron's direction, trying to prove that it wouldn't be just a speed bump in the Vikings' (17-0) path as they steamrolled to a sixth consecutive state title.

Ever since the Lions' 17-10 loss to the Vikings a year ago in the regional final, they had been dreaming about getting another shot at Mount Hebron.

"We knew we were a better team than what we showed last year," said Lions midfielder Meagan Voight. "The whole year, we looked forward to this."

It certainly showed, and right from the start. In the first two minutes, Liberty snagged every ground ball, found cracks previously invisible in Mount Hebron's defense and grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals from Voight and Sarah Scrivener. It was the first time the Vikings had trailed by more than a goal all season.

Something changed, however, once the Vikings got on the scoreboard on a goal by Kristen Waagbo. Mount Hebron spent Tuesday night bonding by making tie-dye shirts, and Waagbo's goal seemed to set free that carefree attitude once again.

The Vikings went on a run of five straight goals, and Nicolaus slammed the door on Liberty for a 10-minute stretch. The Vikings took a 6-3 lead into halftime thanks to two goals by Waagbo and one each from Scurachio, Lindsey Dutch, Karen Long and Maria Bosica.

"We all owe Cindy a big thanks," said Vikings midfielder Stephanie Scurachio, who had a goal and a pair of assists. "We knew they were hungry for this game, but so were we."

Liberty, which dominated the time of possession, kept coming in the second half, but Mount Hebron always seemed to have the answer. Lions attackman Becky Trumbo, one of the area's best, had defenders running at her from every angle, and even when she did get loose for a shot, Nicolaus was there to make the save.

"We knew [Trumbo] was one of the best players we were going to face this year," said Vikings defender Laura Carper. "So when it looked like they were going to isolate her, we tried to double and cut off the angles. But they have a lot of good players. They can hurt you a lot of ways."

Mount Hebron advanced to the state final four for the 13th straight season, and is the only team - boys or girls - to make it there every year since the state lacrosse tournament began.

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