Girls Athlete of the Season

Spring athlete of the year Erin McMunn, of the Winters Mill girls' lacrosse team, poses for a portrait on the team's practice field, Tuesday, June 14. (Staff photo by Kitty Charlton, Patuxent Publishing / June 14, 2011)

Erin McMunn and Cody Harman both attended Westminster East Middle School. When it came time for high school, their paths diverged — McMunn went to Winters Mill and Harman headed for Westminster.

Yet, as high school seniors, they essentially ended up in the same place: Both student-athletes led their respective schools to state championships.

McMunn added a critical leadership element to a young Winters Mill girls lacrosse team that wasn't expected to contend for another state title — but did.

Harman's all-around offensive excellence and solid handling of the county's best pitching staff enabled Westminster's baseball team to complete an undefeated, championship season.

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And their efforts weren't confined to the field. Both have proven to be dedicated and high-achieving students who made time to instruct younger athletes and enrich the lives of many in their community.

For their standout performances on the field, in the classroom and in their community, McMunn and Harman have been named the co-winners of The Eagle's Spring Sports Student-Athlete award.

Leadership in lacrosse and life

Early this spring, the Winters Mill girls lacrosse team looked like it was rebuilding. The starting goalkeeper was a converted midfielder and the Falcons faced the task of replacing three All-Americans from the 2010 team that was ranked as the top public high school program in the nation.

But they still had McMunn.

A four-year starter who is headed to Princeton University, McMunn's leadership skills and consistency helped an inexperienced Winters Mill team win its second consecutive Class 2A-1A championship. It was the third title in four years for the Falcons, who have become one of the state's dominant lacrosse programs.

"She's one of a kind," said Winters Mill head coach Courtney Vaughn, who has guided the Falcons to all three of their state titles. "Erin is a very humble kid who treats everyone well. You could see her leadership qualities from day one, and we selected her as a captain her sophomore year because we saw that she could be someone special.

"This year, she really had to step up by herself and be more vocal, which isn't necessarily her style. She worked so hard, and her teammates followed her lead."

It wasn't an easy season for McMunn, who missed several games because of injury. Still, she finished as the Falcons' top point-getter. McMunn placed seventh among county scorers, with 39 goals and 45 assists. More importantly, her dedication and unselfish play made it another season to remember for Winters Mill, which finished 6-1 in county play and 15-3 overall.

"The other teams put a lot of pressure on her this season," Vaughn said. "They knew she was an under-19 national team player, so she was often double- and triple-teamed."

But McMunn, whose younger sister, Caitlyn, is also a member of the team, never let pressure affect her. She led the Falcons back from three early-season losses to powerhouses McDonogh, Good Counsel and Westminster, to a close regional championship victory over Manchester Valley and a state semifinal win against Queen Anne's.

McMunn closed her high school career with a team-leading performance, recording three goals and two assists as Winters Mill beat Loch Raven, 13-2, in the state title game at University of Maryland, Baltimore County Stadium.

"During the preseason, a lot of people thought it was going to be an off-year for us," said McMunn, the daughter of Dan and Gretchen McMunn. "We had a lot of holes to fill.

"We weren't the same kind of team as last year's, but we knew we were OK," she said. "It was a fun year. And I was so fortunate to have coach Vaughn and to be able to play for this program."

McMunn started her journey to a spot on the U.S. Under-19 National Team on the same field where she won three state titles, at UMBC. She was one of 165 players at the initial tryout and survived the first cut to 42. After playing in tournaments in Boston and Florida, McMunn had to sweat out the final cut.

In January, McMunn's name was on the 18-player final roster. She was ecstatic upon learning that she would be traveling to Gottingen, Germany, for the 2011 Federation of International Lacrosse Under-19 World Championships, scheduled for Aug. 3-14.