Coming to their defense

Ever since he was called up from junior varsity three years ago, senior Kyle Cottrell has been a standout defender for Glenelg.


The phone call that came three years ago wasn't a surprise to Glenelg boys lacrosse coach Josh Hatmaker.

He was the Gladiators' junior varsity coach at the time, and his prized freshman defender, Kyle Cottrell, was in demand.

"It was midway through the season and I'm driving to practice when [former varsity coach] Mike Williams calls: `Hat, somebody got hurt - I gotta pull Kyle up,' " Hatmaker recalled.

Cottrell soon found himself in the starting lineup and never left, enjoying a solid four-year career that was highlighted by the Gladiators' county championship season this spring.

Big, fast and smart, Cottrell, 6 feet 2 and 195 pounds, is set to play at Loyola College next year after leading a defense that allowed a skimpy 5.36 goals per game as the Gladiators went undefeated during the regular season.

May 15 was a tough night for Cottrell and the Gladiators (12-1), however, as the team fell for the first time this season, eliminated in the regional playoffs by rival Mount Hebron. The days that followed - with no practice, game film to study or games left to be played - were even tougher.

Since he first took up the sport in second grade, Cottrell has never been able to get enough lacrosse.

"Hands down, lacrosse is the greatest sport around. It's got a good, fast pace to it when it's played right and just a fun all-around game," said Cottrell, who carries a weighted 4.2 grade point average with plans of studying finance at Loyola.

Along with excelling in the classroom, Cottrell, a team captain, has taken a studious approach to lacrosse. As the Gladiators' shutdown defender who was assigned the opposing team's top attackman, he studied game tapes to find players' tendencies before taking the field and dominating.

"We'd be sitting there in a film session and he'd be like: `That kid doesn't like to get checked, does he? Every time he takes a hard check on his hands, he takes two steps to his left or two steps to his right, whereas if he doesn't get a check to his hands, he's going more vertical up the field,' " Hatmaker said. "For a kid to be able to pick up something like that is pretty special."

The Gladiators play a college-style defensive scheme with different help coverages that Cottrell believes will help him make a smooth transition to Loyola. His attention is now geared toward the inch-thick packet he received from Loyola that outlines a summer program for running and lifting weights.

"Loyola owns me now," Cottrell said jokingly.

Hatmaker is confident Cottrell will fit right in.

"He's got everything a Division I program looks for. He's got the size, good speed and he's got the stick to carry the ball with both hands with a good knowledge of the game. With all that, he could see some considerable time as a freshman," he said.

Cottrell played midfield until the eighth grade when, playing for the Cobra travel team, he was asked to move back on defense. Immediately, he found his niche as he thrived on the challenge of going up against attackmen.

"For me, there's always been something about playing a straight-up position with another player," he said. "Being able to go after a player aggressively, control where they're going on the field and take the ball away from them is just fun for me."

The Gladiators, who went 6-4 in county play last spring, had a nice mix of veterans and newcomers this season and went 10-0 in the county Along with fellow defenders Nick Lawson and Andy Curley, Cottrell was well aware the team would rely heavily on that unit to bring home wins.

Sophomore goalie Jon Selfridge, in his first season on varsity, had a first-hand look at the group's fine work, particularly leaning on the play and leadership of Cottrell.

"Kyle was our leader. Whenever we got in the huddle, he was there to tell us what we were doing right and wrong - always in a positive way," Selfridge said. "A lot of teams in the county had one or two offensive threats, and we always knew we could put Kyle on the top one and that would pretty much shut them down.

"It was fun watching attackmen get frustrated and Kyle be able to get in their heads and take them out of their games."

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