Silencing the critics

The four Division I-bound stars of South River's team thrive on trash talk and feed off each other's talents


April 18, 2007|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,SUN REPORTER

South River's Scott LaRue had heard enough.

During the Seahawks' second-round lacrosse playoff game against Arundel last season, LaRue said opposing players were needling him about his ability. He took offense not only because it was directed at him, but also because he felt his teammates were being disrespected, too.

"They were talking to me during the game, telling me that I wasn't a good enough player and that I wasn't going anywhere with lacrosse," LaRue said.

With his team down by a goal with about eight minutes left in the third quarter, he scored three goals in a three-minute stretch, silencing the on-field trash talk and leading the Seahawks to a 15-10 victory.

After dodging and unleashing a left-handed shot that hit the upper-right corner of the net, LaRue took the ensuing faceoff and scampered down the field to punch in another goal. A few minutes later he scored again, igniting his team's run of 10 consecutive goals and finishing with seven goals and one assist.

The Seahawks finished the season with a 15-3 record, losing only to eventual state champion Severna Park - twice during the season and in the regional championship. The 6-foot, 170-pound LaRue, who will play at Maryland next year, garnered All-America honors in addition to first-team All-County and second-team All-Metro selections after compiling 33 goals and 25 assists.

This season, LaRue and his teammates look to continue quieting their opponents. He is one of four talented senior captains for South River - along with fellow midfielder Thomas MacNeil and defensemen Andrew Miller and Shane Hall - who will be playing Division I lacrosse next year.

"Scott is a hard worker who leads by his effort and example," South River coach Troy Smith said. "He's a good faceoff man who controls the ball for us and has great field sense in that he knows where to place the ball, where to go next and what formation would be most effective for us. He sees the weakness in what our opponents present and knows how to exploit that weakness."

Said MacNeil: "Scott's a great athlete. Shane's hungry, physical and a great motivator. And Andrew's a great communicator and coach on the field. We're great friends, have great chemistry and work really well on the field together."

They operate under the belief that no matter how gifted they are as individuals, without one another, South River would not be among the best teams in the county.

"They were all named captains because of their work ethic," Smith said. "Whether it's on the field, during the offseason or in the classroom, where they all have a GPA of 3.5 or better, they are great kids. They care about athletics and academics, they're leaders and they have integrity."

MacNeil and LaRue run the same midfield line together and are a handful for opposing teams. The 6-1, 185-pound MacNeil, who carries a 4.3 grade point average with a course load of Advanced Placement classes in English, math and the sciences, will play next year for the Naval Academy. He posted 32 goals and 20 assists last season.

"Scott is a great shooter and faceoff technician who can score from anywhere, but he's dangerous because he's also looking to give it up," said Miller, who transferred to South River from St. Mary's last year. "Thomas is a strong shooter whose left hand is just as good as his right and he's unselfish, too, because he'll get the ball to the other guys and share the wealth. They're the best tandem that I've ever played against."

The 6-1, 185-pound Miller, who'll play for Mount St. Mary's next year, is the team's best close defender and the most vocal player on the field. He routinely shares his grasp of the defense to position his teammates.

"If lacrosse had a quarterback, that would be Andrew," Smith said. "He'll lead the other players, who may be young and timid, and tell them where they need to go. And because of his defensive skills, I can put him on any of the top attack players that we face without hesitation."

Hall, a 5-11, 170-pound long pole defenseman who earned second-team All-County honors as a junior, is a solid on- and off-ball defender. He'll team up with LaRue at Maryland next year.

"Whether we're winning 15-3 or losing, Shane is a unique player in that he takes every minute seriously," Smith said. "He's very dedicated and has worked very hard on his own to better himself as a player. He also has great listening skills and executes the techniques and fundamentals stressed by the coaches."

After last year's success, Miller, LaRue, MacNeil and Hall have set their sights on taking South River to the next level.

In addition to their usual summer league play on the same team, the captains led their teammates through grueling weightlifting, running and conditioning drills during the winter. They organized informal workouts that began at 7 a.m. on the weekends, with more than 40 returning and hopeful players participating.

This season, in accordance with South River tradition, the captains and their fellow seniors take turns hosting team dinners the evening before games. The team meals, in addition to enhancing team chemistry, are symbolic of the give and take among the four captains.

"We all bring different things to the table," Hall said. "We're different people who feed off of different things, but each one of us brings out something positive in the other.

"I'm an average player on a great team," Hall added. "Our guys bring out the best in me."

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