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Patterson Lax update

With the help of Coach Jonathan Kehl, we're following the Patterson High School boys' varsity lacrosse season. Last year at this time, Kehl's Clippers started their season without one of their leaders -- Christopher Clarke, the promising senior who had been a bystander victim of a street shooting in northeast Baltimore. The '07 Clippers dedicated their season to Clarke. (Here's a link to an earlier blog post and my column of May 2007).

Here's Coach Kehl's latest report: The thing I love about Patterson and our team is that you never really know what you're gonna get. Everyday is something new and monotony is nonexistent. This week saw the return of Tyrell Addison who is unquestionably one of most athletic and passionate young men I've ever met. Of course this would mean I would have to stick my head out for him and vouch that he would keep his affairs in order. The week also saw the loss of another clipper. Eric, half of the 'Latin Heat', had to step up as a man and down as a Clipper. Because of circumstances beyond his control, he needs to take leave from the team and being a freshman, to instead run the family business. Yeah a ninth-grader, like so many others in Baltimore City, was pushed into adulthood a bit too early. I love that kid and I hope he comes back as soon as he can. And how about the Castro family?! Talk about a pleasant surprise. It has been overwhelming how many people are touched by and support Patterson Lacrosse. The Castro family is about as selfless as they come. As tight as things are for everyone, they graciously donated $200 to the team's discretionary fund (which until now only consisted of my money). I think the only appropriate way to spend the extra cash is to finally create a Christopher Clarke scholarship fund. Castro's you have the honor of the first endowment. As the scholarship project develops, I will keep everyone up to speed. I know there are a lot of you out there who will be interested. Last Friday, we had the pleasure of playing Forest Park in west Baltimore. It was the first of a five game road series for the Clippers. We were caught off guard and found ourselves down 3 nil in the first few minutes. From there it was all Patterson with 5 unanswered goals. We were plagued with penalties for most of the match and played man-down for nearly 10 minutes in all. Needless to say, Forest Park also rallied and the game would end with the Clippers going into overtime, man-down, without possession. Forest Park capitalized and won the match 8-7. Tuesday's match would take us to W.E.B. Dubois in Northeast Baltimore. The outcome wasn't much different with a loss by one goal. Jazmon Harris had an amazing late game and Charles Karaberis had the game of is young career. It really was a good match and as heartbreaking as these one goal losses are, I guess it has got to be better than getting blown out. We are so close, but we just can't seem to finish. Maybe it's the coaching. Digital Harbor is this Friday; they beat Dubois by one so maybe we will return the favor. Thanks for all of your continued support and tolerance of my grammatical errors. Coach Kehl --------- Clippers get first win

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April 7:

Wow, What a week… Due to travel circumstances beyond my control (US Airways) I was in Charlotte NC while the Clippers were playing there first regular season game against Edmondson.  As you can imagine, I was disappointed to say the least, but the Clippers came through and played very well against Edmondson under the Supervision of Assistant Coach Rudy Wagoner and Coach Chris Stalker.  They were tied at the half but came up a little short and finished down by two.  Not a bad effort with the absence of their Head Coach.  In any event, we were back at it Wednesday and Thursday making adjustments to prepare for Douglas.

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I came as no surprise to see more rain and cold weather at our first home game.  I told the boys we'd be cursed with bad weather until we get that 'W'.  Everything was in place, the boys were warmed up, fed, and ready to play.  The weather wasn't miserable but definitely cold, wet and windy.  Just when we are ready to take the field… No opponent.  It is a relatively well known and frequent occurrence that busses run late in Baltimore City, but try telling that to a team whose stomach is in knots waiting to size up their opponents and get the match underway. To make it even worse when their bus finally did arrive they are wearing their 'white' or 'home' jerseys.  No problem right, just throw on our away jerseys… now remember we just finished an away game on Wednesday and many of our away game jerseys are somewhere is a washing machine because the boys didn't bring them back to school to let the Coach wash them because the Coach was God only knows where trying to get on a flight to get to the game.

In a few minutes time we rustled together as many black jerseys we could find in that locker room.  They weren't all game jerseys, some weren't even Lacrosse jerseys but we had enough.  All but one. Terrell Howard was the only one left without a black jersey with a number on it.  Still scrambling, Mike pointed over to our memorial of Chris, where displayed was his black game jersey.  We asked, and everyone agreed that Chris would have demanded that we use his jersey just as we had used his stick, gloves, and whatever else we needed in the past.  I think in many ways Chris still is a Captain for our team and he always shows up on the days we need him the most.  Terrell wore it well and the rookie had a great game.   By the way we led the entire game.  And while it wasn't the most graceful match, we played our hearts out and brought home a victory.  Joseph "Speedy" Hawkins, Felix Almoza, & Jazmon Harris found the back of the net and Freshman Aaron Overton found it twice.  Our defense remains to be a force to be reckoned with and Mike led them with another 16 saves.  Next Match, @ Forest Park this Friday.

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Had I know that my casual email to Dan would be the first of a series of 'Blog' entries I would have written a little less casually. I must say that I am flattered that Clipper Lacrosse is 'Blog' worthy. In any event I would be more than happy to include highlights of the Clipper's season that may not appear in the sports section of The Sun. 

We played a great tournament @ Parkville the Saturday before Easter. Patterson, Western Tech, and Chopticon from St. Mary's County were all invited to play. The Knight's Coaches and AD were great hosts and it was some well played lacrosse on a cold day before Easter. While Patterson didn't come away with a win they played some hard-fought Lacrosse with only about half the roster of the other teams.

Patterson drew Parkville and played them first. The Clippers came out strong but struggled to keep up with the Knight's quick midfield. Mike Collins' goal-keeping has become a bit of a metaphor for Clipper Lacrosse -- passionate, rough, aggressive, yet in the end disciplined and respectful of the game and other teams. It is easy for a team to get frustrated when you are being outplayed and there is little you can do. At halftime Mike and I pulled the team together, calmed them down, and readied them for the rest of the day. After that, the Clippers came out and played tired, cold, bested, but well. And they had fun.

The next match against Western Tech was about the same. It was a much closer game but the Clippers were exhausted and it showed. I knew we would be stretching ourselves thin when we accepted the invitation to play in the tournament, and consequently the scoreboard would reflect that. However the guys stuck together, played hard, and represented our fallen teammate as they always do. The Knights were great hosts and sportsmen. We look forward to participating in next year's tournament.

We invite you all to attend our first home game against Douglas Friday. It should be a great match.

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Here's Coach Kehl's first report of the '08 season:

"All is well here in Clipper country. The boys are really coming along.  We are definitely much further ahead than we were this time last year. We just scrimmaged Dundalk Wednesday, and it was a really good match.  Dundalk is decent, and we finished 10-7 -- not a victory but we worked real well together and moved the ball around nicely. Had we been selfish and forced it we could have won but everyone played and it was a real good learning experience.  Our first home game against Douglas (April 4) should be a good one. Thanks for all of your continued support and we hope to see you all soon."

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