If there's one thing Friends' supporters can count on at this time of the year, it's the Quakers making a run at an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship in girls lacrosse.
The Quakers won the title last year by routing Park after losing in the final for three consecutive years.
Friends is in good position again to chase a crown. The Quakers (9-3) will likely enter the league's playoffs starting May 6 as a No. 3 seed.
The championship game is May 11 at 3 p.m. in Westminster at McDaniel College.
One potential problem is that there has been more competition for the title than past years. Seton Keough (No. 4 seed) and the Institute of Notre Dame (No. 5) have been tough opponents for Friends.
The Quakers beat Seton Keough by a goal and IND by a only total of three goals in two games.
"It's a really, really competitive conference," Park coach Robin Lowe said. "I really believe any of the top-five teams could end up in the championship game."
Friends third-year coach Mandy Hudson agrees.
"I don't think there's much difference between the upper and the middle of the pack this year," said Hudson, a former University of Maryland player whose team went a combined 30-5 in 2011 and 2012. "In the last couple of years in the conference, there's been kind of a top-two or three, and then there's been a split."
Friends hasn't seen much of a drop off in its play from last season despite graduation of eight seniors, including prolific scorers Emma Sissman (Davidson University) and Ella Cooper (University of Virginia).
Hudson needed someone to emerge as offensive leaders, and junior midfielder Abby Corkum (38 goals, 12 assists) and sophomore midfielder Rachel Kehoe (31, 15) have delivered.
"They are filling those roles quite nicely," Hudson said. "They have stepped in and did a pretty solid job."
Corkum and Kehoe are getting support from freshman attacker Marli Caplan (19 goals), junior attackers Clare Shaffer and Louise Foster and sophomore midfielder Caitlin Donovan (11 goals).
"We lost a lot from our attack and midfield," Hudson said. "So we had to see how people fit in. They are working well together. We have found ourselves as a unit. We are seeing the things in practice develop in games, so we can't ask for much more."
Hudson had less questions about her defense, which returned seniors Haley Sieglein and Anna Mortimer in front of standout junior goalie Rose Woolson.
"I feel if we can hold any team to eight goals, then we should win that game," said Hudson, whose team has done just that seven times. "When our attack is more balanced, then we end up on the preferred end of the score."
Friends had a rough time against Park when the teams clashed on April 8, falling, 16-4, in a rematch of last year's championship game.
The Quakers played Park tougher in the second meeting on April 25, as the Bruins managed to prevail, 10-8.
"It was a very different than the first time we played them," Lowe said. "We had to adjust to a really good defensive unit they had out there. Last time, we kind of had our way with them"Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun