Back with a vengeance

After missing all of last season with an injury, St. Mary's Grant Krebs has something to prove.

March 29, 2006|By LUKE BROADWATER | LUKE BROADWATER,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

This time last year, Grant Krebs' spirits were low.

Sidelined with a back injury throughout the 2005 season, the St. Mary's standout lacrosse midfielder was forced to watch the once-mighty Saints program struggle to a 3-13 record.

"Honestly, I was kind of down the entire season," said Krebs, a senior. "It was really difficult not being able to play."

Krebs suffered from a stress fracture in his back near the beginning of the season. Now, he feels like he - and his team - have something to prove in a stacked Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

"We're the underdog this year after what happened last year," Krebs said. "But our team definitely has potential to be at the top."

With Krebs back in action, hopes are high for St. Mary's this season. The Saints have won their first two games - 9-5 over St. Alban's and 16-10 over Pallotti - and are ranked No. 7 in The Sun's poll.

Krebs has already made an impact. Against St. Alban's, he scored four goals and notched one assist. He added two more goals against Pallotti.

"Having Grant on the field is like having the best player in the state of Maryland with us," said St. Mary's senior captain Brian White, who plays defense. "I don't think anybody can compare to the way Grant plays."

Added St. Mary's coach Matt Hogan: "Grant is the player who will be on the field in the last two minutes of the game, regardless of situation and score. He is our best shooter, ground-ball player, and maybe our best defender."

Indeed, Krebs' teammates are most impressed with his versatility, specifically his ability to run, pass, shoot and play defense.

"It's very important to have Grant on the field," senior co-captain Thom Cecere said. "He's a really good player because he has a sense of team. He doesn't have to score. He can create offense. He can create transition. He's the best ground-ball player, the best shooter. He's got a good sense of the field."

Though it caused him frustration throughout 2005, Krebs' injury didn't hurt his standing in the eyes of coaches at Georgetown and Notre Dame - both of which recruited him to play for them next year - especially because Krebs was selected for the 2004 Freestate Team, a prestigious squad that plays New York in an annual contest.

To the delight of Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan, Krebs signed with the Fighting Irish.

"Unfortunately, Grant missed his junior year, but we felt he was one of the better sophomores in the state of Maryland the year before," Corrigan said in a statement announcing Notre Dame's recruiting class. "He clearly was when he made the Freestate Team. We just think he's a tough, athletic two-way middie who can do a lot of things well."

Krebs has played on the St. Mary's varsity since he was a freshman. A talented three-sport athlete, he also made the varsity as a freshman in both soccer and ice hockey. Krebs also excels in the classroom, with a 4.1 grade point average.

But despite his athleticism, some have questioned whether Krebs will be able to return to his old form after the injury. He is determined to prove them wrong.

"People think I won't be the same," he said. "I'm trying really hard to have a good year and show people that I'm not hurt anymore."

Krebs said his teammates and coaches sometimes discuss St. Mary's dream season in 1996, when the Saints won the MIAA A Conference and, with it, recognition as the best high school team in the country.

"We have the paper saying `National Champs' in our weight room," Krebs said. "We're definitely trying to get back to that point."

To start on the path back to prominence, St. Mary's will need to focus on playing as a cohesive unit, Krebs said.

"I think we're a lot better than last year," he said. "Our team chemistry is the best it's been in the four years since I've been at St. Mary's. The past few years we've been a one-man show. It doesn't work when one guy is trying to do it all. This year, we're focusing on being a team."

After last season, there's no where for the Saints to go but up.

"We've already won two games," Krebs said. "That's almost more wins than all of last year."

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