Cronin: older, wiser, better

Girls soccer: Lynlea Cronin learned plenty from the sideline watching her older sister. Now, the Wilde Lake senior is one of Howard County's top scoring threats.

High Schools

October 03, 2002|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

When she was a sophomore on the River Hill girls soccer team, Lynlea Cronin spent much of the season on the sideline, admiring the leadership role her older sister, Kelsey, had for the Hawks.

"Since she was a senior and had a really important role on the team, I wished that I could be like that," Cronin said. "I hoped that my time will come to do good stuff like her."

Fast forward two years and Cronin's time has arrived, although some of the details have changed. The uniform, for one.

Cronin transferred to Wilde Lake last year, and in her second season there, has become one of Howard County's most potent goal-scoring threats. The senior has 10 goals and two assists entering the Wildecats' game tomorrow against Cronin's former team, top-ranked River Hill, at Wilde Lake at 3:30 p.m. Both teams are undefeated.

Cronin has already been warned by one of her good friends, River Hill midfielder Jamie Goertler, about what kind of treatment to expect.

"She told me that they all want to get me, but I don't know what will happen," said a giggling Cronin. "This game does have extra incentive for me, but everyone on our team wants to win."

Cronin has scored in all six of her team's games, but putting the ball in the back of the net has never been hard for Cronin, who faces her toughest defender before she steps on the field: her own nerves.

She can't explain why she transforms into a nervous wreck before the opening whistle of nearly every game, acknowledging that it has been that way ever since she started playing.

Wilde Lake first-year coach Robin Grey said the nerves are a direct result of the pressure Cronin puts on herself to score goals, and that has been magnified this year. Cronin is a captain and the lone senior field player on the young Wildecats.

"She feels like everybody expects her to do something and that there's a lot of pressure on her to score, but she's learning to use and trust her team," said Grey, who, after coaching the JV team last year, took over the varsity squad from Marcy Leonard.

Grey and assistant Amanda Berman have tried to ease the pressure with pep talks and motivational words, and Grey said that they have seen significant improvement since Cronin - in Grey's words - "kind of snapped" during a 3-0 win over Mount de Sales in early September.

In the Wildecats' next game, Cronin scored all four goals in her team's 4-2 victory over Howard, and then three days later, notched both of Wilde Lake's goals in its 2-1 victory at Atholton.

"I don't like going out and saying, `I have to score a goal,' " said Cronin, who plays club ball with the Frederick United Sting, the U-17 state champion and a regional finalist last year. "I just want to play, have fun and help out this team."

It has been at least five years since Cronin's been a captain on any team, but like a well-executed through pass, Cronin has taken the role this year and ran with it.

Grey pointed to a moment during the Wildecats' double-overtime 1-1 tie against Linganore as further proof.

"One of my freshmen - Ashley Myrick - was a little down and out, a little tired and she asked me for a sub, and Lynlea said, `No, we need you,' " said Grey. "And that's all it took. I could've said it, but it meant more from Lynlea."

Cronin credited playing a year on the varsity team at River Hill with her sister as the training she needed.

Kelsey's graduation, and an aversion to the school's tech magnet program, which allows county students to attend schools outside their district, are what pushed Cronin to transfer to Wilde Lake, the school she was initially districted for, before her junior year.

The transfer created another opportunity for Cronin to interact with a sibling on the soccer field, this time as an opponent.

Aubrey Cronin, Lynlea's younger sister, was a freshman on the River Hill varsity team last year. When they played last year, Cronin scored a goal and had an assist to spearhead a 2-1 Wildecats upset.

"Playing with Kelsey was a lot of fun, and playing with Aubrey, it was just so weird, but she was happy for me," said Cronin.

Aubrey Cronin has since transferred to Wilde Lake and is not playing soccer this year. However, that does not mean the game tomorrow has lost any personal significance, although don't expect Cronin to get nostalgic.

"I don't regret anything I did," she said. "I am totally happy with my decision, and wouldn't change if I could."

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