Big second half propels Westminster to 11-3 win

Mruk's seven points help Owls remain unbeaten

Boys lacrosse

High Schools

April 05, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A week removed from the biggest trauma of his life, Westminster senior J.C. Hutchins returned to the lacrosse field last night.

While the All-Carroll County goalie - who will be out of action for at least six months while recovering from injuries sustained in a serious car crash - was forced to watch from the sideline, his presence was enough to help the Owls rebound from a slow start to top host Liberty, 11-3.

Led by attackman Joe Mruk, who had four goals and three assists, the Owls turned a close game into a rout by scoring seven straight goals in the final 18:52.

"It was real nice having him out. It was a big inspiration for us," Mruk said. "A lot of us hadn't even seen him since the accident."

One week before, Hutchins had been driving through dense fog on Route 97 near the Pennsylvania line when he said he apparently blacked out. His pickup truck crossed the center line, hit an oncoming car and spun into a ditch.

The McDaniel College-bound student will miss the rest of the season with a broken left leg and torn tendon in his left knee.

Though the Owls (4-0, 1-0 county, 2-0 Central Maryland Conference) had played two games since, last night marked Hutchins' return to the sideline, albeit in a wheelchair.

"The kids were so excited when they wheeled him in," Westminster coach Jim Peters said. "It was definitely a motivation that he came out and watched us tonight."

Said Hutchins, a three-year starter, who was greeted by teammates and well-wishers: "It's tough, but I'm just going to try to root on the team. A lot of the guys came up to me and said, `We're going to win this for you.' I said, `Don't worry about that; just win it.' "

That, however, was in doubt until the second half.

Facing a game Liberty team, the Owls struggled early, and led 4-3 on Jay Westerlund's goal 2:28 into the third quarter.

"In the beginning, we were all really excited and anxious, and we might have been trying a little too hard," Mruk said. "At halftime, we just talked about settling down, moving the ball around, just playing our kind of lacrosse."

Westminster began to dominate, not allowing a goal by the Lions (0-4, 0-2, 0-2) the rest of the way while shifting its offense into high gear. Matt Duke and Andrew Gehringer also scored two goals each for the Owls, who have outscored their opponents, 58-11.

"A lot of times, younger kids will try to abandon the offense on you," Peters said. "You've just got to keep saying, `Stay with the program. Stay with the offense and it will eventually work for you.' "

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