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Michelle Morrison coaches the Check-Hers ninth-grade 2021 girls indoor lacrosse team during winter indoor leagues. Now, she'll hand it off to summer coach Amalie Meszaros.

But judging from its championship style of play in the recently-concluded Carroll Indoor Sports Center's junior varsity girls lacrosse league, Meszaros is receiving a very good product that will be more than competitive in upcoming tournaments.

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Morrison's Check-Hers 2021 Black squad won all 10 of its games in Carroll Indoor's winter session which ended Feb. 26. That had to please the officials of the Westminster-based Check-Hers girls' lacrosse club.

Those officials could also take pleasure in the fact that the battle for first place in the winter session was a family affair. Check-Hers' 2022 (eighth grade) Black team, coached by Jen Hawks, was second at 9-1.

Its only loss was a high-scoring 25-22 goal-fest to the 2021 squad.

The 2021 Black team had 241, the second most goals in the junior high division. The 2022 team had the best defense with 155 goals allowed while scoring a third-best 230.

Both Check-Hers coaches like to keep the players active over the winter months because there are always more things the girls can learn and practice.

"The idea is to keep a stick in their hands and give them as many touches as possible. (Playing indoors) gives the players lots more chances to get shots on goal," Morrison said. "There's not a lot of pressure so we also encourage the girls to try new skills such as shooting left-handed."

Getting shots on goal is pretty easy in indoor lacrosse since the fields are small. Getting shots in goal is also a lot easier than outdoors of course. Game scores sometimes resemble football or basketball finals.

For example, the 2021 team won one game over Westminster 32-29 and another one 27-17. The 2022 team won a 20-18 match. Then, there was that 25-22 affair.

Both teams have had past success at the Carroll Indoor. Both had unbeaten seasons there in 2017.

And each team was unbeaten when they met on Jan. 14. While Morrison's team went ahead early and stayed ahead in that game, things got interesting at times.

"We started out pretty strongly and had a pretty good lead," Morrison said. "Then we faltered a little, and they had a run. We weren't winning many ground balls. But we were up at halftime and pulled it back together in the second half."

Said Hawks: "We knew we had to play our best game. They are a year older than us, and we knew it would be a tough game. But I'm still proud of the way we played."

She noted the girls all know each other and have also played on the same teams in the past. The two squads sometimes even scrimmage.

While the teams each wanted to win their intra-club battle, Hawks explained that there wasn't a big rivalry.

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"After all, it's all Check-Hers," she said.

Morrison feels she had an all-around good team, noting that it's been strong from the goalies all the way up through attack.

"But our main strength was at midfield," she said.

Her girls also made good use of their ample opportunities to score during the season, and Morrison explained that they rarely lost the ball near the opponents' net.

Like Morrison, Hawks also likes the indoor game, because it gives her girls experience in facets of lacrosse that don't come that often on the much more spacious outdoor fields. Because the players are positioned close together and the ball moves rapidly during indoor play, they must learn to shift positions because the situation changes from moment to moment.

"The smaller indoor fields teach everyone to play both offense and defense. You have to make quick decisions because of the rapid ball movement," Hawks said. "But our girls improved a lot in that area, and I was happy for that, although I would have been happier if we'd won."

Like Morrison's squad, Hawks' 2022 team is coached by others in the summer. Her 2022 Black team will play in the Maryland Youth Lacrosse League this spring and then compete in summer tournaments.

he 2021 squad will play in some college showcase tourneys this summer to give college coaches an early look at these older girls. The coaches are already beginning to scout the girls, even at this young age.

Their coach believes her players will put on a good show for the inquiring college coaches.

"It was nice they had an undefeated season, but I got more pleasure watching them develop, learn new skills and take their game to the next level," Morrison said. "I am very encouraged about the upcoming season."



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