Pointers step up achievement level

Boys lacrosse team, with only three starters back, goes 12-0 and improves in classroom



Despite returning only three starters from last year's 13-2 squad, Sparrows Point's boys lacrosse team finished this year's regular season at 12-0, good for Baltimore County's Division II title as well as the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A-1A South regional playoffs.

But before any of his players could play a second of lacrosse, Pointers coach Tim Dodge made sure each of them could make the grade in the classroom.

"Our goals as a coaching staff was to raise the standards and accountability of our players on and off the field, so we created new academic requirements," Dodge said. "In order for our players to be eligible for the season, they needed to maintain an average 2.0 GPA throughout the first two quarters of the school year."

A mandatory one-hour, pre-practice study hall was instituted and monitored by teachers who worked closely with guidance department chairman Paul Muller. Players with grade averages between 2.0 and 2.5 were placed on a "watch" list and monitored by progress reports turned in to the coaching staff.

"Between 61 percent and 65 percent of our players improved their GPA from the previous quarters," said Dodge, in his first season after five years in Edgemere's Sparrows Point Youth Lacrosse leagues. "On the field, we needed to secure our own territory before looking any further."

For the Pointers, this meant overcoming neighborhood rivals Patapsco, Dundalk and Eastern Tech, which they did, en route to capturing the county's Division II crown at 11-0.

"I believe the win over Eastern Tech really opened some eyes in our own community while helping us take that step to the next level of play," Dodge said.

The Pointers' top scorers were junior attackman Chris Dicea (37 goals, 44 assists), junior midfielder Dustin McVey (23, 10), junior attackman Kevin Murphy (22, 10) and sophomore midfielder Josh Greer (14, 12) .

The Pointers totaled 159 goals, and Greer sparked their winning 77 percent of their faceoffs. Senior goalie Evan Pritchett had an 87 percent saves ratio in eight games and allowed only eight goals behind junior defenders Steve Jarrard and Josh Green. Backup goalie Alex Hornberger, a junior, had a 66 percent saves ratio.

"I'm happy we were able to do so well in the regular season. The boys have really worked hard and maintained their focus, no matter the opponent," Dodge said. "But at the same time, we made it clear to them that this is what is expected of them. We still have to prove to the lacrosse community that Sparrows Point, despite its size, can compete with the best in Baltimore."

Fowler gets McCoach

Randy Fowler is - as he has said himself - "no fool."

So when Fowler, formerly the cross country coach at Mercy, was hired to head the Calvert Hall cross country program beginning this fall, he took a page from the Cardinals' archives and hired Jim McCoach as his assistant.

McCoach was the architect of a Calvert Hall dynasty that captured seven Maryland Scholastic Association and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships in cross country during the 1990s. Most recently, McCoach started the cross country program at Maryvale, where he earned All-Metro Coach of the Year honors in 2001.

McCoach deferred all inquiries to Fowler, who wasn't shy about highlighting his colleague's record of success.

"I learned a long time ago that if you surround yourself with quality people, you will get quality results," he said. "So I thought, `Shoot, why not get a legend on board?' "

Fowler is no slouch himself. He guided Mercy to the school's first cross country title in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland in 2004 and was named The Sun's Baltimore City Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2004.

Fowler, who turned down an offer to coach the Cardinals in 2000, said his interest was re-kindled after reading an advertisement that Calvert Hall was seeking a new coach.

"I wondered if I could have as much success coaching boys as I have coaching girls," said Fowler, who said he cried for 30 minutes after he broke the news of his decision to his Mercy team. "I thought, `I don't want to be a 70-year-old in a rocking chair thinking, What if?' "

Calvert Hall hasn't won a cross country championship since 1999 - the last year of McCoach's tenure at the Towson school. Fowler wouldn't go so far as to make a guarantee for the coming MIAA season.

"It's a great, great conference with some great coaches and great athletes," he said. "What I will say is that we are going to bring in our system and our old-school mentality. ... We're going to have them ready."

Sock exchange

Franklin junior faceoff midfielder Matt Woods, who scored a goal in the Indians' win over Dulaney in the county boys lacrosse championship game on May 9, said some of the credit for the victory goes to his younger brother's socks, which he was wearing.

KC Woods, who plays for McDonogh, had been wearing the socks the day before during the Eagles' Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference quarterfinal win over Loyola.

"Matt chalks up a bit of the win [over Franklin] to his brother's karma," said their mother, Alyssa.



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