Gaels' Smith puts stop to concern

Soccer goalie's effort against Loyola removes any doubt about health, readiness in recovery from severe injury



Mount St. Joseph junior goalie Nick Smith, who had rarely seen action this season, entered for the first of two 10-minute overtimes in the scoreless Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title game against Loyola Nov. 5.

The Gaels were a man down for the remainder of the game against the Dons when Smith replaced ejected starter Ryan McDonald. But Smith's three saves, including one from point-blank range, preserved the Gaels' third tie of the year against Loyola - good for a co-championship that represented Mount St. Joseph's first tournament title since 2001.

But Smith's effort in the game wasn't even half the story, for he had only been cleared to return to play three weeks earlier after nearly having his skull crushed in a preseason collision with a teammate in practice.

The injury occurred during the Gaels' second week of tryouts, and required the surgical insertion of a thick, metal, protective plate into Smith's forehead.

The official injuries, as described by the doctor through the athlete's mother, Debbie, included "a left periorbital depression fracture, shattered frontal bone, a left-side torn anterior wall of the frontal sinus and a full thickness laceration above the left eyebrow."

"Nick came out for a save in a one-on-one situation and, as he made the save, the player tried to avoid him by jumping over him and came down on Nick's forehead," Gaels coach Mike St. Martin recalled. "I was about at midfield when it happened. But when I looked down at him, I immediately called 911. I knew it was bad."

Smith missed most of the season until playing a few minutes of a game against John Carroll, St. Martin said.

"He was tentative in some of our practices, and you could tell he was a little gun-shy against John Carroll," St. Martin said. "But the way he played in the championship game, you'd have never known - especially on the save from 6 yards. Nick was fearless." The Gaels finished the year with a 19-4-4 record and a No. 2 ranking behind Loyola.

Mercy hockey rises

As a first-year varsity program, Mercy's field hockey players could not have asked for much more.

After losing to Lutheran twice during the regular season, the Magic tied the Saints, 0-0, in quadruple overtime to earn a share of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference championship.

Certainly, the Magic would have preferred to win the title outright, but after being a club team a year ago, it got off to a fine good start as a conference contender. The Magic finished 10-7-2 overall and 10-3-2 against C Conference teams.

Goalie Brittanie Locke led the way in the title game, recording her eighth shutout. The junior allowed only 10 goals to conference opponents.

Junior Jenny Verdis led the team in points with 13 - eight goals and five assists. Clare Naldrett had nine goals and one assist, while Niki Flynn had four of each and Melony Hamlin had seven goals and one assist.

Naldrett, Hamlin and midfielder Melissa Giancola were named to the conference all-star team.

Knox resigns

Anthony Knox has resigned after his third season as Poly's football coach, he told The Sun on Monday. Under Knox, the Engineers won two of three meetings with rival City College, twice made the Class 2A North regional playoffs and won the city's Division I crown during his first season at the school.

Poly went 9-2, 7-4, and, this year, 5-5, under Knox, 43, whose eight-year head-coaching record is 54-22. He replaced John Hammond at Poly in 2003, having won three Baltimore County 4A-3A titles and reached the Class 3A state playoffs four times during his previous five years coaching at Randallstown.

Wu repeats

A year ago, Bryn Mawr's Annie Wu pulled an upset to win the IAAM A Conference tennis championship. This fall, the junior took a more direct route.

She won every match, capping a 13-0 season with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Roland Park's Lindsay Katz in the No. 1 singles final.

An All-Metro selection last season, Wu this fall helped lead the Mawrtians to a share of the A Conference regular-season title along with Roland Park.

Wu currently is ranked No. 20 in Mid-Atlantic section girls 18 singles. Mawrtians coach Kate Brendler said she dominated her A Conference opponents this season.

"Annie has just always been really a focused player and her maturity has continued to grow," Brendler said. "She doesn't allow herself to get flustered. She's the only player I've ever had who is almost completely self-correcting."

The Mawrtians, who spent the season in a tight race with Roland Park and Notre Dame Prep, also had the No. 3 doubles champions in freshman Clare Gottsch and Maddie Koerber. Julie Dibos and Sarah Hemmendinger were second in No. 1 doubles and Stasia Badder and Stephanie Milison were runners-up at No. 2 doubles.

Numbers game

4 -- Interceptions returned for touchdowns by Dunbar defensive back Alexander Wilson, who has nine interceptions this season.

7 -- College wrestling programs that recruited Mount St. Joseph senior Alex Ward, a two-time Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion. Ward, whose father, Kelly, twice won NCAA titles at Iowa State, signed for a partial athletic scholarhip at Nebraska. Iowa State, American, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia all were interested in Ward, who will compete at 152 pounds this season.

21 -- Goals scored this season by Archbishop Curley junior striker B.J. Quigley, who led the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference in scoring. Quigley scored six game-winning goals and assisted on four other goals for the Friars.

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