Looking back, moving on

Despite a heartbreaking loss in the boys lacrosse state semifinals, it was a season to savor for North Harford seniors Dean Thrasher, Steve Galbreath and Mark Parks.

May 31, 2006|By MARY BETH KOZAK | MARY BETH KOZAK,SUN REPORTER

North Harford seniors Dean Thrasher, Steve Galbreath and Mark Parks were speechless after the Hawks' overtime loss to Mount Hebron in the Class 3A boys lacrosse state semifinals last week.

It was a difficult end to an otherwise fulfilling season. It was also the seniors' last chance to go out on top.

"Everybody was real quiet after that game," said Galbreath, a midfielder. "Any other year, winning a regional title would be huge, but we expected to go the whole way. It kind of hurt."

A week after their hopes for the school's third state championship fell short, the three friends and teammates gathered and reminisced about what was and what could have been.

"We just had so much fun this year, and as the wins started coming, we expected to win," Galbreath said.

The Hawks (17-3) had their best season since 1995, which was the last time they won a state title. They captured their first county title since 2003 and their first Class 3A-2A North regional title since 1995.

In the regionals, they defeated Milford Mill, Aberdeen, Fallston and Baltimore County champion and top seed Franklin before falling to eventual state champion Mount Hebron, 10-9, in the state semifinals. North Harford's only regular-season losses were to Franklin and Fallston.

"I think we definitely surprised people because everybody expected either Fallston or Franklin to come out of [the region]," Parks said.

Said Thrasher: "We had to beat [four] teams to get into that state semifinal. We just beat every team we needed to and surprised people. We got our school out there, and just to play all that time and in our last year, just to do so good. It was great to win all of these big games and accomplish a lot."

The trio was a large part of North Harford's success.

"We won six games by one goal and we wouldn't have won that many games without them," Hawks coach John Grubb said. "There were very few off-field or on-field problems. They were very close-knit and had the same goals. We didn't have a problem with one of these kids this year and I think that is a big part of a team that is successful."

Others noticed the impact the three seniors had on their team.

"I think it was those three, their senior leadership and their passion, that took them to the state semifinals," said Fallston coach Matt Parks (no relation to Mark). "I heard them talk to the team before our [playoff] game and it was impossible for their team not to play for them. They just had so much passion."

Galbreath, Thrasher and Parks have been playing together since fifth grade and were proud of what they accomplished as seniors. The Hawks broke three school records this season: most wins in a season (17), most goals (212) and most assists (153).

"I think we played a huge part of it," Thrasher said. "Steve would win the faceoffs and pass it to Mark or I and we scored a lot of goals."

Both Parks and Galbreath agree that Thrasher was the team's best player this year and gave him the nickname "All-Star."

"Being the All-Star, everybody knows him and he'll have three guys on him," Parks said.

Thrasher, a first-team All-Harford County attackman last season who will play at Salisbury next year, elevated his game this season. A three-year starter, he had 42 goals and 46 assists this season and finished his high school career with 99 goals and 95 assists.

"I'd call him well-rounded," Grubb said of Thrasher. "He scores when he needs to score and sees the field real well. He can find the open guys. ... His biggest attribute is that when the ball turns over to the other team, he was an awesome rider. He had the confidence this year."

Galbreath began facing off last year and broke the school record for most faceoffs won in a career (313) and in a season (202).

"He's a strong kid and that's very important facing off, and he's a smart kid," Grubb said. "He knows how to make adjustments."

In the Hawks' come-from-behind win against Annapolis this season, Galbreath won 21 of 27 faceoffs.

"Technique is important, but more important is after the faceoff," Galbreath said. "It's all about who wants it more - it's a dogfight."

Galbreath, who will play for Army next year, won 72 percent of his faceoffs this season and 67 percent in his career. He finished with 14 assists and eight goals this season.

Parks, an All-Harford County second-team selection last year, played both attack and midfield for the Hawks.

"Mark never got off the field, he just kept running," Galbreath said. "I could probably run faster than Mark, but not longer than Mark. I get tired."

Parks, who will play at Harford Community College next season, had 31 goals, 16 assists and 57 ground balls this season.

"Mark not only ran midfield, he ran attack also. He had an awful lot to learn from the two positions," Grubb said. "He did things for the team that weren't necessarily good for him individually."

Although the three seniors will no longer be playing together, they realize they were a big part of a special team at North Harford.

"It feels good because Coach says we're one of the special teams in North Harford history," Parks said, "and that really distinguishes us from other teams."

marybeth.kozak@baltsun.com

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