A bang-up job

John Carroll midfielder Casey Ancarrow is willing to work hard for the win -- she's got the bruises to prove it


May 20, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special To The Sun

Casey Ancarrow smiled sheepishly when asked about several large red cuts and scrapes that covered her knees and shins last week.

"There's bruises on my arm, too, but they're kind of fading," the John Carroll junior said. "But it's worth it."

The various abrasions were a byproduct of the effort Ancarrow put in to get a career-high five goals and one assist in No. 3 John Carroll's 10-9 overtime victory over No. 6 Severn in last Sunday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship game.

Allyson Carey scored the game-winning goal and is John Carroll's star player, but Ancarrow has used her tireless work ethic to emerge from that shadow this season.

Carey said she wasn't surprised about the number of cuts and bruises Ancarrow suffered, calling it a testament to the way her fellow midfielder plays.

"She works hard, and she's everywhere," Carey said. "She will do anything to win. Even though scoring is a big deal, to her it's about getting the ball and making sure we still have possession. She's always hustling for the ground ball, the check or the defensive positions."

Ancarrow, who had 24 goals and 12 assists last season, wanted to elevate her game this season because the Patriots lost several seniors from last year's 11-6 team.

The work paid off, as Ancarrow emerged as a more potent offensive threat. Carey led the team with 72 points (53 goals, 19 assists), but Ancarrow was right behind with 68. Her 40 goals ranked second on the team, and she led the Patriots with 28 assists.

Ancarrow capped her season with the strong performance in the conference championship game. She helped John Carroll (14-3) rally from a 6-2 deficit to force overtime and scored one goal in the six-minute extra period.

"This year, we had only four seniors, and the majority of our team was juniors, so I felt like we had to step it up to take the place of the seniors from last year," Ancarrow said. "I felt like last year, I didn't play as well as I could have. This year, I really wanted to step up and prove that I could play and have a lot of goals and a lot of assists and make a good impact on the team -- so I just pushed myself harder."

Her statistics are even more impressive because she began drawing more attention from opposing defenses as the season went on. Carey is routinely face-guarded (one-on-one defense), but more teams began doing the same thing to Ancarrow.

John Carroll coach Krystin Porcella said the Patriots simply worked harder at forcing the ball into Carey and Ancarrow's hands. They also drew up plays that would get the ball to others such as junior Grace Gaeng, who finished with 27 goals and 12 assists, giving John Carroll a top three that was hard to stop.

"Ally's just kind of a little more pronounced for the different things she does, and the success with the U.S. [under-19 national training] team," Porcella said. "I also think Ally and Casey work extremely well together, and so if one's scoring the goal, the other's making the assists, and not necessarily with just each other."

Severn coach Renie Sotiropolous said Ancarrow has developed into a big-time player.

"Carey is a great player, but I think Casey is much more wily," Sotiropolous said. "Her ability to use the crease and get open is unparalleled -- she's tricky."

She honed those skills through lots of practice. Ancarrow began playing lacrosse in elementary school and quickly fell in love with the sport. She moved on to travel/club lacrosse and made the John Carroll junior varsity as a freshman before being called up to the varsity halfway through the season.

Ancarrow began to make her mark last year as a sophomore, and colleges such as North Carolina, James Madison and William & Mary have shown interest in the 17-year-old.

Carey had been known for her success in both soccer and lacrosse, and Ancarrow used that success as motivation.

"Ally did really well last year ... so I didn't have any reason to get mad about it," Ancarrow said. "If Ally can step it up, I can, too. I was just trying to play as well as I knew I could play. I'm happy with it."

Ancarrow now will join her club team (North East Maryland Select) for regular practices and weekend tournaments in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania through July. She then plays field hockey in the fall and indoor lacrosse in the winter.

Ancarrow said she wants to help bring John Carroll another championship next spring and won't mind putting in plenty of practice time to do it.

The hard work will likely earn Ancarrow some more bruises.

"She's a tough kid, that one," Sotiropolous said.

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