Hereford senior dominated in lacrosse

Megan Bell made one of the toughest decisions of her life once she entered Hereford High as a freshman — giving up her cycle for a stick.

She switched her focus from competing in a sport she felt passionately about and had won three state championships in two years — motocross (dirt bike) racing.

Bell wanted to concentrate on other sports, particularly lacrosse.

"As soon as I got to high school, I slowed it down," Bell said. "I really didn't have the love for it anymore. And I gave it up completely as a junior."

It turned out to be a great decision to move away from a sport her father, Mike, participated in professionally.

By her junior year, the 2011 North County News Athlete of the Year ended up starting in varsity basketball and soccer, as well as lacrosse.

The 5-foot-9 Bell will play lacrosse at the University of Cincinnati next season on scholarship after receiving heavy interest from several schools.

"I am so excited to go play Division I," said Bell, who chose the Bearcats over the University of Denver and Duquesne University. "That's what I have wanted to do ever since I was little. I had 40 Division I schools contact me. I went on a bunch of visits, and Cincinnati was the first school I looked at."

Her senior year at Hereford proved to be arguably her best as an athlete. Bell captained all three teams, led the lacrosse team in scoring, the hoops squad in steals and made impact on the soccer field as a sweeper/stopper after switching from midfield.

"Megan is a true and amazing athlete," Hereford soccer coach Nancy Ferguson said. "She would be noticeable in any sport. I can't wait to see what college can pull out of her."

Bell, who carried a 3.78 grade point average, racked up 43 goals and eight assists to earn first-team All-County honors for the 9-7-1 Bulls in lacrosse.

She also finished first on the team in interceptions (10) and second in both ground balls (26) and draws (10).

That year followed a stellar junior season in which Bell amassed 39 goals and 13 assists. Bell started three years for the Bulls and also played six years for the highly competitive Rome club team after playing eight seasons in the Hereford rec program.

"She was everything for us and she was our most versatile player," Hereford coach girls lacrosse Anne Ensor said. "She had it all. The kids really respected her and I loved her attitude and dedication."

Bell had some outstanding regular-season games this past spring, scoring six goals in a 12-11 win over Perry Hall and finishing with another six in a 15-10 loss to Towson.

She also made her mark in the playoffs, notching a hat trick against both Towson and Fallston.

"Her shot was the biggest thing this year," Ensor said. "She developed a left-handed shot. She is right-hander. If opponents forced her to her left, she still got it off."

On the basketball court, Bell, a four-year varsity player and two-year starter, thrived under first-year coach Ellen Fitzkee.

Bell didn't score much, but Fitzkee was more than glad to use the senior as a tenacious defender on a team that went 22-2.

"She was the one who forced the action and created a lot of turnovers," Fitzkee said of a player who averaged 4.8 steals per game. "You had to like her never-say-die attitude."

Fitzkee said Bell improved both her shooting and rebounding by the end of the season. The biggest strides came in Bell's thinking about offense more.

"By the end of the year, she became more of an all-around player," Fitzkee said.

For the Bulls' soccer team, Ferguson moved Bell to the backline because Hereford had a number of young players at midfield. The change couldn't have worked much better.

"With her experience, she turned out to be a settling force in the back," Ferguson said. "I totally respected what she did for us. Megan has always been a workhorse for us."

Ferguson said Bell also tutored the younger Bulls, many of whom looked up to her.

"She is a role model," the coach explained. "She will pull the young ones aside and give them a heads-up about things."

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