Motivated midfield

No. 1 Gilman has something to prove and thinks it has just the talented group of players to do it

Varsity Boys Lacrosse

March 19, 2009|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,glenn.graham@baltsun.com

Every day, as Gilman players walk into the locker room, there's a constant reminder of how they don't want this season to end. Right next to the practice schedule is a photo from last year's championship game that provides instant motivation.

It shows a mob of Loyola players in jubilation, throwing their sticks into the air after their second straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship. Also in the photo is Greyhounds midfielder Greg McBride, then a junior, somber and with his head down.

"We know this is the last time we're all going to be playing together as a group of friends," said Cooper Brown, also a senior midfielder this year. "It [stinks], but it's awesome at the same time. We know we have a great opportunity, and that motivates us so much."

If the Greyhounds end the season with a championship, it will likely be in large part because of an experienced midfield led by All-Metro players McBride and senior Jack Doyle, as well as Brown and junior Duncan Hutchins.

Coming off a bitter 12-11 loss to rival Loyola in last year's conference title game that ended an 18-game winning streak, the Greyhounds bring back a wealth of talent that has something to prove.

Although Gilman's defense is skilled and sturdy and the attack is direct and precise, there's no question where the starting point lies with the area's No. 1 team. The midfield is a mix of talent, grit, athleticism and smarts.

"It's a fun group to play with because there are so many talented guys that can do so many different things," said Hutchins, who has been on varsity since his freshman year. "It's hard to explain because everything is coming so easy because we've been playing together for our whole life basically. We're ranked real high and all that stuff, but we're just out there playing lacrosse and it's what we've been doing since we were little."

It's difficult for Gilman coach Brooks Matthews to give a quick assessment of his standout midfielders because each can do so much on the field.

Doyle, whose junior season resume includes 37 goals and 25 assists, "is as determined and intense as they come," Matthews said.

He describes McBride (18 goals, 20 assists) as probably the area's best athlete in lacrosse. "He's quick and fast and tough, and that's a great combination to have for a midfielder."

Cooper (team-high 90 ground balls) prides himself on defense and creating positive situations with skill and hustle.

Hutchins (18 goals, nine assists) is strong on draws, brings tough defense and a wicked shot, and speaks volumes with his tenacious play.

"I think early in their careers they bought into what we want to do as a program, which is to become complete midfielders," Matthews said. "They're definitely comfortable with each other, and they definitely want to be out there with each other and they have a lot of fun out there together - that's a key."

All-Metro senior attackman Marcus Holman appreciates the work he sees from the special group that plays behind him.

"I've heard from so many people that you win games at the midfield, and as much as it may pain me to say it as an attackman, it's true, and we have a great group of midfielders," he said. "It obviously starts with Jack and Greg, who are just two stud athletes. We'll go as far as those guys take us."

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