Key girls halt 50-game county skid



Francis Scott Key girls lacrosse coach Tim Harrison knew it would happen eventually. It just had to.

Last week's 11-10 triumph over South Carroll gave the Eagles their first win against a Carroll County opponent - ever. Since the program's inception in 1999, Key had lost 50 straight in county competition during the regular season.

"In the scheme of things, it was big just to get it done," Harrison said. "We knew eventually, one of these days, we'd win a county game. But at times it's been tough to motivate the girls. It was like, what did we have to do to win a game?"

On April 25, the Eagles did just enough, scoring the game-winner on Kellie Levy's goal off a free-position with less than a minute left.

For the past seven seasons, however, routinely playing against county powers such as Century, Winters Mill and Liberty had proven simply too tall a task.

"We've competed with some of the best teams in the county and the state for periods of time during the game - six minutes here, 10 minutes there," Harrison said. "But then we've let down and not played well for 10 or 15 minutes, and that's when we've lost our composure and lost games."

Not that the Eagles have been a hopelessly bad team. In fact, they've had their share of quality wins over the years, though always against non-county competition.

Even when they captured the Class 2A-1A West regional title in 2002, they still spent the season getting blown out by county opponents and finished with a sub-.500 record overall.

Harrison, who previously coached the junior varsity for a season at Century, said he has strived to "humanize" the better programs.

"We let the girls know that just because teams like Century, North Carroll and Winters Mill are class programs in the state, they do the same drills we do," he said. "We try to help them understand that it's not necessarily a magical thing that the teams have, it's the amount of work they put in."

He also said Key is just starting to reap some of the benefits from the area's recreation program.

Key will close out its regular season at home against Winters Mill tomorrow.

Award for Falcon

Winters Mill middle distance runner Tom Martz last week was one of three students from across the state to be honored in the Youth category of the Governor's Volunteer Service Awards.

Martz, a junior, was recognized for his six years of service to the Bear Branch Nature Center, where he cares for animals.

Also a member of the school's indoor track team, Martz, was second in the county 500 last winter.

Owls rebound

It took some time for new Westminster boys lacrosse coach Jeff Doolan to patch holes left by the graduation of seven starters from last year's Class 4A-3A state semifinalist. These days, however, the former Mount Hebron coach has the Owls flying high.

The team has managed to brush off a 3-4 start to win five straight heading into last night's game at Century, including last Thursday's 11-7 win over Class 2A-1A state finalist Liberty.

"Each game we've gotten better and played a little more cohesive as a group," said Doolan, who took over for Jim Peters when the Owls' longtime coach received a promotion to the county's central office. "We've got some great players - they just are chipping away at getting to their potential."

Two of them, seniors Pat Smith and Derrick Ensor, combined to score seven goals against Liberty. The magnitude of the win wasn't lost on Owls players, who knew they were better than they had showed during the early season.

"We had 46 turnovers against South Carroll and no one can win a game with 46 turnovers," Smith said. "At Broadneck, we hung in until the end against a top-five team, so after that we knew we could play with any team in the state. We just had to get it going.."

The win capped a big week for Smith, who also signed a letter of intent to continue his career at Robert Morris. The senior had a team-leading 37 goals heading into yesterday's game against Century.

Liberty back on track

Liberty baseball coach Erik Barnes knew he had one of the county's top pitchers in senior Robbie Mathias. It's been several other previously unknown commodities, however, that have helped the Lions rebound from a disappointing 2005 season.

The Lions are 10-5 heading into today's game at Francis Scott Key, including a league-leading 7-2 in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Piedmont Conference. That's a stark improvement from a year ago, when they finished 9-10 overall and 4-8 in the conference.

"It's about having more consistency in our starting pitching," Barnes said. "Robbie Mathias has been very reliable, but then other guys have stepped up."

Jason Rawlings has become a key cog in the rotation after catching a year ago, and Barnes also has gotten solid innings out of John Byrum, who keeps his walks low and lets his defense make plays.

"They've exceeded expectations in some regards," Barnes said.

At the plate, Jake Thompson, a utility player last season, is batting over .400 out of the No. 5 spot, while No. 6 hitter Jack Lambert has shown good pop.

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