This Novice Is Net Gain For City



Arnisha Owens wasn't too sure about trying lacrosse, especially when one of her friends recruited her to be City's goalie.

"I had never played lacrosse in my life," Owens said. "I kind of wanted to play softball, but my mother said it would be nice to do something different, so I tried it."

She's glad she did.

In her first game - only five days after she began practicing in the goal - Owens made 15 saves and kept the Knights close until they fell to Western, 15-14, in overtime.

"At the beginning when they were first coming down, I was getting nervous," Owens said. "They were shooting really hard and I had never been in a game before. But then I got used to it and realized my team counted on me and I did my best."

When the game ended, Knights coach Kendra Ausby said Owens came to her and said it might be better if she didn't play in the goal. After all, Owens said, she had given up 15 goals.

"She was like, `I missed 15 goals,' and I said, "You stopped 15 goals. You have no idea what that means. We could have lost 30-14,' " Ausby said.

Getting used to the mental challenge of being a goalie in a high-scoring sport may be the toughest task for Owens, who said she would like to attend some clinics and play over the summer to improve her skills.

"I really like it now," said the sophomore, who has played basketball, softball and baseball. "From every game, I take what happens and use it as a learning experience. In the Western game, they wouldn't have made two goals if I had cleared the ball further away from the goal, so I'm working on my clears."

Ausby said Owens has come a long way from that first day when she was running away from the ball. In her second game, she made nine saves and allowed only four goals in a 4-3 loss to Patterson.

"It's still early, but she's got the combination of natural talent and desire, and she's very coachable. She wants to know what she did wrong every single time. Sometimes I have to tell her: `You didn't do anything wrong. It was a good shot,' " Ausby said.

"She's got a lot of room for improvement, don't get me wrong, but she's already playing like she has experience."

Natural ability

Glen Wingrove first met David Eubanks when the latter was lifting weights as a Poly freshman in the fall of 2003.

Wingrove had been hired to coach the Engineers' lacrosse team and asked Eubanks, a football player, to complete a questionnaire about that sport.

"We talked just about every day he lifted about playing lacrosse, but David told me he was going to play baseball," recalled Wingrove, a former coach at CCBC-Catonsville. "Eventually, he was swayed and came out for the team in the spring. David never had played lacrosse, but it was apparent he was a special player. He was someone who had the right combination of desire, work ethic, attitude and physical ability. David went from being a novice to an integral contributor during his first season."

As a junior, Eubanks, 5 feet 11 and 160 pounds, is considered to be perhaps the premier midfielder in the Baltimore City League, "whether he's playing man-up offense, faceoffs or being the best player on ground balls," Wingrove said.

Eubanks went from scoring four goals during his initial season to contributing 15 goals and 12 assists last year, when he won 65 percent of his faceoffs. This year, he has the Engineers poised to win a fourth straight league title.

Although he was not the top goal-scorer during the Engineers' come-from-behind, league-opening 10-9 overtime victory over Carver, Eubanks scooped numerous ground balls, scored twice and had two assists, and generally contributed hustle and unselfish play, as the Engineers scored eight unanswered goals.

Eubanks also excels in the classroom, where he carries a 3.5 grade point average.

"David is the consummate coach's player, a leader on and off the field," said Wingrove, whose program has won two consecutive city B Conference titles and last year's A Conference crown after going 0-12 before his arrival. "I can see David playing in college because he's improving every day."

Wingrove is also enthusiastic about junior left-handed attackman Brent Hayward, a 6-footer with a 3.9 grade point average.

Freshman find

Southwestern softball coach Anthony DeVita knew he was getting a pretty good pitcher in freshman Shannon Bonnett, but she quickly exceeded his expectations.

The right-hander threw no-hitters in her first two high school starts, striking out 14 in a 17-0 win over Reginald Lewis and then striking out 21 in a 9-4 win over City.

In another complete game, she struck out 13 as the Sabers defeated defending Baltimore City champion Digital Harbor, 11-8, a week ago.

"She's got a lot of natural talent," DeVita said. "She can bring the ball really hard and her accuracy is pretty good. We've just been tweaking her technique, like how she grips the ball. She's definitely improving every day."

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