Howard County sports reporter Brandon Hopp, who covers boys lacrosse, discusses the top teams and league leaders as the season nears its end. (Jon Sham/Baltimore Sun Media Group video)

Jake Stevens did his homework on the Mt. Hebron boys lacrosse program before he ever donned a Vikings jersey.

Stevens had one aspiration before graduating in four years time — become the top scorer in Mt. Hebron history and possibly in the county.

"The first thing that I did as a freshman was look at the records and decided where I wanted to be," Stevens said. "I definitely had an idea of what I wanted to do before I got out of this place."

Season-by-season, Stevens' goal and assist totals began pilling up. Whether he was dodging right, left or flying down the alley, the crafty left-hander had a knack for putting the ball in the net.

"Jake was definitely focused on seeing how he stacked up with some of the great players who have come through here," Vikings coach Mike McCarthy said. "He is very goal-oriented, which is kind of a pun. He was very interested in his statistics being better than everyone else's.

"He took it personally if there was someone better than him. He always competed and tried to be the best."

When Stevens walked off the field for the final time this spring, he made good on his objective. He finished his career with 234 goals and 125 assists to finish as the program's all-time scoring leader with 359 points.

It was far from easy for the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times boys lacrosse Player of the Year, however.

The focal point of opposing defenses was to slow him down. Stevens garnered the attention of every team's top defender and often fought through double-teams — but not much worked.

"Jake is an unbelievable talent," Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker said. "He is extremely strong and athletic. The thing about Jake is that he analyzes the game and waits for you to make a mistake. Then, he is able to capitalize on those mistakes."

After tying Glenelg's Nick Wynne with 116 points to lead the county last season, Stevens stood all alone atop the leaderboard this year with 92 points on 65 goals and 27 assists.

Incredibly enough, he admits going to the well repeatedly with the same move, but defenses have rarely been able to stop it.

"I always go left," Stevens said. "I like to go up top, fake right and then go left. They always bite right for some reason; I don't know why? I can go right but I don't trust it enough, which is something I'm going to work on."

Stevens burst onto the scene as a freshman by scoring 64 points (43 goals, 21 assists). By sophomore year, he increased his totals to 55 goals and 32 assists and county coaches knew then of his ability to take over games.

Last season, he posted one of the best individual efforts in county history with 71 goals and 45 assists. His outstanding season was highlighted by an eight-goal, five-assist performance in the playoffs against Glenelg.

"The biggest change from his time as a freshman to his senior year was how he became so much more efficient in his scoring," Hatmaker said. "I will not miss preparing for him."

Stevens could be seen scoring highlight reel goals on the field but his success started before he stepped on the field on game days. Always studying film, he knew what his opponent's wanted to do before they could do it.

"My job as an attackman is to score, so I made sure that I always found a way to get the ball in the goal," Stevens said. "Watching film helps me to know where the best place to shoot is. The worst thing you can do is get an open shot and not know where you want to put it."

Stevens will head to storied Division III powerhouse Salisbury University this fall. But he wasn't always sure that he wanted to be a Sea Gull with Division I schools like UMBC, Delaware and High Point showing interest.

"I actually cancelled my first visit," Stevens said. "Once I got there, it was completely different from what I expected. Turns out, it was the only place that I really want to be."