The South Carroll Cavaliers boys lacrosse team has done very well for itself during its two years of play.
Last season, SC reached the Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association Lightning Division B playoffs for fourth- and fifth-grade teams. Besides a solid season in MYLA, it also did very well in the Greater Howard County Club Lacrosse League's B division for fourth and fifth grade teams — it made it to the postseason finals.
Coach Jim Hitchcock said he was uncertain how this year would turn out because six of his 16 players were new to the team, and two of them had never played lacrosse. However, South Carroll went 10-1 in the regular season, tying for first place in the Lightning B Division. Last Tuesday, SC beat Gamber in its opening playoff game and awaits its second postseason tilt Wednesday against Reisterstown.
Howard County didn't go so well this time around. Moved to the Club League's A division because of its success in last year's B circuit, the locals went 1-6. One of those losses, however, helped convince Hitchcock he had a better team than he thought.
This year's Cavaliers started slowly as the squad worked to get itself together. After winning its opening MYLA game, it lost to Cockeysville 4-3.
The game had its notable aspect. Regular goalie Brody Lockwood was ill and Evan Duvall, the team's only fourth-grader, volunteered to play despite having never played there before. The team's youngest player had a good game and had several saves in the loss.
Still, Hitchcock didn't like the overall direction of the team. But things turned around the following weekend.South Carroll blanked Perry Hall 14-0, the first win in what would be a nine-game regular season winning streak. That weekend, SC faced Forest Hill, the top team in the Club League.
"They had played three games and only given up six goals. We scored four against them,” Hitchcock said. “We hung in there in that game, and that's when I knew we were starting to turn around.
"I knew we'd turned a corner."
Hitchcock and assistants Justin Speigle and Clay Arthur had worked the players hard on learning to compete as a team. And it was beginning to pay off.
Hitchcock explained that, "the players began competing as a unit and not just a bunch of individuals making plays. Eighty percent of our goals were assisted goals. I loved those assists. When they beat their man and drew a slide, they didn't try to drive past that person. There would always be somebody left open, and they passed to that open man. They really excelled at that.”
The offense scored 105 regular-season goals, by far the best in the Lightning B Division. A lot of kids got in on that scoring parade too.
When the regular season was over, 12 of the 16 Cavalier players — even the two goalies — had scored. They would show their wares in the playoff against Gamber, too.
But defense wasn't ignored either. It gave up only 17 regular-season goals, tying Cockeysville for the fewest allowed.
Hitchcock credited that low total to the play of his defenders and midfielders which included their ability to clear the ball out of danger. Jack Hitchcock, who played both midfield and attack, was one of the best at clearing the ball. So was midfielder Demauri Carter.
The coach said midfielder Nick Compher might have been the team's best overall athlete. He won most face-offs and dominated play on both offense and defense when on the field.
“We turn to Nick when we need to make a play," Hitchcock said.
Trip James and Brady Duvall had strong years at midfield. Coltyn Bull played defense, midfield and attack and was fifth in goals scored for South Carroll.
First-year performer Carter Glass played defense well and showed great promise for the future. Drake Geho was a strong, physical defender. Patrick Flatley, injured before the playoffs, was one of the best defenders in the league and one of the team's best at getting ground balls during the time he played.
All were good in clearing the ball out of South Carroll's end.
Jim Hitchcock was concerned his players may take Gamber too lightly in their opening postseason contest. They had beaten Gamber 16-1 in their May 15 game. But his boys were up for the playoff game enough to win 13-3.
Attackers Quentin Duncan (five goals, one assist) and Jacob Speigle (three, three) led the offense. Speigle led the league in both goals and assists this season.
Jack Hitchcock, the team's most versatile player who excelled both midfield and attack, added a goal.He was second on the team in assists and led it in ground balls this season.
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Midfielder Braydyn Arthur, who had never played lacrosse before this season, added two assists, and Jon Bozman had a goal. Evan Duvall, who filled in so well as goalie against Catonsville, also scored a goal, his first.
Lockwood also had a goal in his brief stint on attack in that game, on his birthday.
South Carroll’s coach said he’s still concerned as he looks ahead to this Wednesday's game with Reisterstown. The Cavaliers won 7-1 earlier this year. Hitchcock nevertheless warned his kids they played a depleted Reisterstown squad in that game.
His team will have to be a little different too.
Hitchcock said some of the Cavs’ goals came on fast breaks this year, and that little passing was needed when that happened. But a good team won't allow many easy goals like that, and his players must concentrate on moving the ball around for the good shot.
It must also concentrate on getting ground balls, Hitchcock said. However, the 15-year youth lacrosse coach thinks his youngsters can go all the way.
"They feel great about their chances. They had a great regular season and are pumped up.I think our chances are good," Hitchcock said. "We'll have three practices before (Wednesday). We should get in some good work. Then we'll see what happens."