Tourney end of long road for Loyola pair

Longtime teammates, seniors Singleton, Korrow closing memorable stay

College Lacrosse

May 13, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Tara Singleton and Kristi Korrow got their first taste of Loyola College women's lacrosse long before they were old enough to be recruited.

They were 8 or 9 years old the first time they showed up for lacrosse camp with Diane Geppi-Aikens, the longtime Loyola coach who died in June after a long bout with brain cancer.

"Ever since we were little, we would come to camps with Di and we would always say, `We're going to grow up and play lacrosse at Loyola,' " said Singleton. "For me, this school has always been my dream."

Although she and Korrow visited several other schools and made their decisions independently, in the end, all roads led back to the Evergreen campus.

"Coming here and meeting the players and seeing how much they loved it and how much they bought into the program, bought into everything Diane said, that's what sold it right there. I felt like I could belong here," Korrow said.

That seems fitting for Singleton and Korrow, who met at St. Anthony's school when they were 6 years old. They soon discovered that they lived only a block apart in their Hamilton neighborhood.

They grew up playing lacrosse together, first in the Overlea Recreation Council's new girls program and later at Mercy High School.

Over the past four years, the two seniors have earned their rightful places in a Loyola defense that has been one of the nation's best for years.

Singleton, 21, is the defensive quarterback, a smart, quick-checking low defender. Voted Most Valuable Player by her teammates, she leads the Greyhounds with 35 caused turnovers.

Korrow, 22, voted most dedicated, is a versatile midfield defender, strong at covering the cutters but also a ground ball vacuum. Her 51 ground balls are best on the team and she also had 23 draw controls.

Heading into today's NCAA Division I tournament opener against No. 11 Vanderbilt, Singleton and Korrow are two reasons why the No. 4 Greyhounds (14-3) have allowed only 8.35 goals a game.

"They've just got that defenders' attitude which is something very hard to coach - that never-back-down mentality on defense and the confidence to carry that ball upfield. They're definitely a force to reckon with when you're trying to play against them," said William and Mary assistant coach Kristin Hagert, who was a senior on Loyola's defense when Singleton and Korrow arrived.

After playing lacrosse together for so long, they have developed an intuitive connection. That shows on the field in their ability to find each other and to anticipate the other's moves, but Loyola coach Kerri Johnson said it's more than that.

"If one did something wrong, the other's patting her on the back, picking her up. They take that energy from each other. That support system has been amazing to see for four years."

At times, Singleton and Korrow have needed that support off the field, especially last season as they watched Geppi-Aikens' health deteriorate while Loyola made its run to the final four.

This season, they have tried to help make the transition smoother for the Greyhounds and Johnson, a former Loyola player and assistant coach. Their support for each other and their team is a living example of one of the foundations of Geppi-Aiken's philosophy - playing for each other.

The influence of Geppi-Aikens, a high-energy, all-access coach, is something that always will affect their lives, they said.

In addition to becoming teachers, both want to coach lacrosse. Singleton will stay at Loyola to complete her student teaching and be an undergraduate assistant. Korrow plans to be in front of a classroom in the fall and might ease into coaching on the high school level.

Despite the pain of losing their mentor so soon, Singleton and Korrow said they never wished they had gone elsewhere.

"I learned more about myself than I ever thought any experience could have provided me with," Singleton said. "I learned to take every day as it is and that's a huge thing in someone's life - to go day by day and enjoy every moment you have with the people who are around you and even just by yourself."

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