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Glenelg girls lacrosse coach Ginger Kincaid has had some talented teams in the past.

Kincaid led Glenelg to a state championship in 2005, and former Gladiators dot several Division I college rosters, including Vanderbilt, Richmond and Denver.

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The 2008 Glenelg team, however, has a chance to be one of its best yet, thanks in part to three seniors already committed to DI schools.

Kristy Black, a 5-foot-5 midfielder, pledged to Maryland, Lauren Giraldi, a 5-foot-5 defender/attacker, chose Vermont, and Alayna Markwordt, a 5-foot-4 midfielder picked Ohio State.

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All three are currently focused on fall sports (Black and Giraldi play field hockey, Markwordt plays soccer), and will later shift their attention to bringing Glenelg another lacrosse championship.

During the summer, however, the Glenelg senior trio was busy figuring out where they would each continue their lacrosse careers.

The hometown school

In retrospect, Black's recruitment probably started when, as a young girl, her mother Kathy regularly took her to Maryland games. Terps legend (and current associate head coach) Jen Adams even signed her stick once.

After sitting down to discuss recruiting with her Hero's club team coach, P.J. Kesmodel, Black began to realize that playing for her childhood favorite would be a legitimate option.

"[Kesmodel] gave me a list of schools he thought I should look at," Black said. "He said, 'Oh you can play top 20, you need to look at all top 20 schools,' and I was like, 'oh wow.' I didn't know."

Eventually Black narrowed her list to Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech. While her parents and coaches stayed neutral and supportive, brother Robby, a junior at College Park, was unabashed in his support for the Terps, taking every opportunity to host his little sister on campus visits.

When Black committed to Maryland in July, Robby was one of the first people she told.

"Oh he was so excited," Black said. "He went and told all his friends right away. He was like, 'You made the best decision. Maryland's such a better school than Virginia Tech.'"

Black now gets to join not only Adams, who she grew up idolizing, but UM head coach Cathy Reese, who coached her on Hero's when she was younger.

"It's been a dream," Black said. "I grew up watching Maryland women's lacrosse and I never realized I'd actually grow up and go there."

The 'picturesque' campus

Giraldi, a 5-foot-5 defender for Glenelg, was like many sports fans who grew up in the area – she rooted for the hometown Terps.

But when it came time to choose where she would spend four years of her life, going to a school with major football and basketball programs was not exactly high on her list of priorities.

"I was brought up as University of Maryland fan, a big football school fan," Giraldi said. "But I wanted to experience something new."

Still, Giraldi gave strong consideration to a couple of traditional BCS conference schools in Connecticut and Boston College.

Ultimately, it was quaintness of Vermont that won out; from its coaching staff, campus-wide emphasis on lacrosse, smaller student body and overall stunning location.

"It's beautiful," said Giraldi of Vermont's campus. "It's on Lake Champlain. The buildings are just gorgeous inside and the mountains in the background are beautiful. It's a pretty picturesque campus."

And in addition to settling in at Vermont's scenic campus, Giraldi is excited about the prospect of playing for one of the Catamounts' most high-profile teams.

"[Vermont's] hockey team is pretty popular too," Giraldi said, "but lacrosse is big-time."

The Midwest sports power

Like Black and Giraldi, Markwordt had a nice selection of East Coast schools to choose from – including Boston University, Virginia Tech, Colgate and Richmond. Ohio State was also in heavily in the mix.

Markwordt, who transferred to Glenelg from St. John's (D.C) before her junior year, eventually narrowed her list down to Boston University and Ohio State. It was a visit to Columbus that sealed the deal.

"I went out to camp in late June and I just knew that I definitely wanted to go there," Markwordt said. "I love the atmosphere of Ohio State. It's such a big sports school."

While the campus and athletic camaraderie were to her liking, Markwordt was also set on making a college choice that would allow her forge her own path – even if it took her away from the East Coast.

"It's kind of different," said Markwordt of her choice. "A lot of people go to Virginia Tech, Penn State, a lot of people go [to those schools] from Maryland. I kind of wanted to start fresh and be independent."

While lacrosse in the Midwest is still in its relative infancy compared to the East Coast, Northwestern's three-consecutive NCAA championships have shown that the region is beginning to flourish.

Ohio State's program, which has been in existence since 1996, is a traditional winner. Head coach Sue Stimmel led the Buckeyes to a 9-7 record last season, which included wins over Virginia Tech and Penn State.

"I think it's kind of different between high school and college lacrosse," said Markwordt of the difference between lacrosse on the East Coast versus the Midwest. "The top college team is Northwestern, and they're obviously not on the East Coast. I know Ohio State was [almost] equal to Hopkins last year. I know they can compete."

Senior year

As freshmen, Black and Giraldi both made impacts as reserve players on the Glenelg varsity. Kincaid moved Giraldi from her club position of attack to defense, where she contributed 6 goals and 2 assists on the year.

Black (who has collected 82 goals and 58 assists throughout her high school career) was a second-string attacker in '05, but stepped into a starting role for the state championship when the starter broke her arm in the state semifinal. Black promptly scored 2 goals in Glenelg's championship win.

With a move to Class 1A/2A, Glenelg has a good shot to make it back to the championship game.

"I'm guessing that'll put us down where Century is and will put us out of the state level with Mount Hebron," Kincaid said.

It would be hard to improve on Markwordt's 50 goal, 41 assist junior season, but another year of playing at Glenelg and developing better chemistry shouldn't hurt.

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"I made her a matching bookend to Kristy on the midfield," Kincaid said. "The two of them together are very complimentary."

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Glenelg also sports a goalkeeper, Megan Tart, who has several DI options as well.

Before Black, Giraldi and Markwordt scatter to three very different schools next fall, the trio will get a chance to finish their Glenelg careers as Black and Giraldi started them – as state champions.

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