Following Through

Confident and aggressive, Severna Park's Eric Lusby has fulfilled coach Jim Beardmore's expectations.

May 31, 2006|By ALEJANDRO DANOIS | ALEJANDRO DANOIS,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Severna Park attackman Eric Lusby made his varsity lacrosse debut last spring as a sophomore, he managed to blend in effortlessly with the defending county and regional champions. Playing within the flow of the game, he fed the ball to his older teammates and scored when the opportunity presented itself.

There was only one problem. Severna Park coach Jim Beardmore wanted Lusby to do more than just fit in. He wanted him to dominate.

"Last year, Eric had to establish his confidence as a varsity player and that was a gradual process," Beardmore said. "I told him, `Don't be shy. I want you to shoot,' "

Halfway through the season, Lusby was thrust into the starting lineup because of injuries to other players. His coach stressed that in order for the team to do well, Lusby had to assert himself.

"At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was a little intimidated because the guys were bigger, stronger and faster than I was accustomed to," Lusby said. "But when some of our key guys got injured, I knew I had to step up so we could play to our full potential."

Lusby responded with the aggressiveness and confidence that his coaches were looking for, and he has carried those traits into this season. He helped the Falcons make consecutive trips to the Class 4A-3A state title game, including a 7-4 win over Dulaney for the championship last week that avenged the previous season's 14-13 loss in double overtime to the Lions.

Over the summer, Lusby played against some stiff competition at the MVP Tournament at Rutgers University and the Gait Cup at Gettysburg College. He matched up well with some of the best players from Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"Playing summer lacrosse helped me get better," said Lusby, who was named to The Sun's All-Anne Arundel County second team last season. "The competition was definitely a step up from what I faced in the regular season."

This season, the junior continued to frustrate opponents with his all-around play, leading the Falcons with 51 goals and 25 assists.

Lusby scored five goals in a game three times this year. He had two goals and five assists in a regional semifinal win over Broadneck, and five goals and one assist against Wootton in the state semifinals.

"Eric's at his best in the big games," Beardmore said. "He's a very intelligent, unselfish and special player with a keen understanding of the game."

Although Lusby is somewhat small in stature (5 feet 9 and 160 pounds), his footwork, balance, strength, vision, quickness and stick skills have frustrated the bigger defensemen who insist on playing him tight and physical.

A hard worker, both at practice and in the weight room, Lusby shoots hundreds of shots a day at the net in his backyard, working on his left and right hand while dodging imaginary defenders. He also spends hours sharpening his hand-eye coordination by catching and throwing against the 12-foot high, 50-foot long, solid block wall at neighboring Folgers McKinsey Middle School.

Lusby's passion for the sport should come as no surprise considering his background. He is a third-generation lacrosse player, born into a family that has played the game since the 1940s. Lusby began playing in organized competition when he was 6.

His grandfather played on the first team fielded by Annapolis High School. His father, Kevin Lusby, was an accomplished attackman at Severna Park who played at North Carolina State. An uncle, older sister and cousin also played at Severna Park.

Lusby, although seemingly consumed by lacrosse, is a well-rounded athlete who also plays defensive back for the football team. He was also the most valuable defenseman on Severna Park's ice hockey team.

This summer, though, he'll continue to refine his lacrosse skills by playing against the region's best players in various tournaments.

"I've had a pretty good season, we've completed our goals and done well as a team," Lusby said. "But I still feel like I could've improved more."

That's a scary thought for anyone who has to play Severna Park next year.

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