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High School Sports: Carroll County athletes looking ahead to college careers

Grace Bruce was one of 10 Century High School girls lacrosse players to sign a National Letter of Intent last month to play college lacrosse at the Division 1 level.

The recent group is the most from the Knights’ program to ever sign Division I NLIs from a single graduating class.

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Maddie Bates (Coastal Carolina), Maggie Bornyek (Virginia Commonwealth), Jess Diorio (Radford), Christina Haspert (Mount St. Mary’s), Kaitlyn Huber (Marquette), Kara Maurantonio (Mount St. Mary’s), Summer Morrison (East Carolina), Maria Rekus (Old Dominion), and Rachel Rubenstein (Mount St. Mary’s) all joined Bruce (High Point) in signing their NLIs.

“It makes me feel secure to know I’m coming from such a talented team with so many really, really good players that are moving on to compete at the next level,” Bruce said. “It makes me feel like me playing with these girls pretty much my entire life has prepared me to compete at the next level.”

Bruce has 171 goals through three seasons at Century, and had five goals in the 2017 state championship game when when the Knights captured their fifth title in nine seasons with a 13-5 victory over Fallston. She has three Times first-team all-county honors.

Bruce suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Century’s game against Middletown last spring that forced her to miss the team’s regular-season finale against McDonogh, and the Knights’ playoff loss against eventual 2A state champion South Carroll.

Bruce said the recovery process has been more of a mental ailment rather than just a physical setback. She was cleared to run indoor track this winter to stay conditioned for her final lacrosse season, but won’t be able to participate in contact sports until March.

Bruce is taking her lacrosse talent to High Point next year. The Panthers won the Big South Conference for a third straight season in 2019 and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time since 2013.

“The coaching staff was really what made me choose High Point,” Bruce said. “They made me feel at home and Coach [Lyndsey Boswell] seems to be very concerned with the well-being of her players as well as very competitive herself and interested in fighting for a national championship.”

Nov. 13 marked the first day that high school athletes could sign an NLI. Carroll County schools recognized numerous athletes that made their college commitments in signing day ceremonies throughout that week.

Century had 13 athletes participate in National Signing Day — Brady Crumbacker (Frostburg), Alex Ellis (Lander), and Alex Kristian (Loyola) made their lacrosse commitments as well. Kristian earned all-county first-team honors as a defender in 2019 after helping lead the Knights to the Class 2A state final.

Meanwhile, Liberty recognized Alanna Wray (Loyola, women’s lacrosse), Jordan Nastos (Hartford, softball), and Allison Tomsuden (Louisiana State, swimming and diving) in its college commiment ceremony.

Liberty's Class of 2020 athletes on their signing day last month. From left, Alanna Wray, Jordan Nastos, Allison Tomsuden.
Liberty's Class of 2020 athletes on their signing day last month. From left, Alanna Wray, Jordan Nastos, Allison Tomsuden. (Courtesy Photo)

Manchester Valley senior Kassidy Johnson signed her NLI to play softball at Mount St. Mary’s. Johnson was named Times Softball Player of the Year in 2019 after leading the Mavericks to the 3A West final. She led the county with a .690 batting average, 16 doubles, and eight home runs. She also led Man Valley with 35 RBIs.

The Mavericks also recognized Josey Shaffer (Lock Haven, women’s lacrosse) and Dahon Saunders (Alderson Broaddus, football).

Manchester Valley's Class of 2020 athletes on their signing day last month. From left, Josey Shaffer, Kassidy Johnson, Dahon Saunders.
Manchester Valley's Class of 2020 athletes on their signing day last month. From left, Josey Shaffer, Kassidy Johnson, Dahon Saunders. (Courtesy Photo)

South Carroll showcased 14 athletes from six different sports — Courtney Vasquenza (William & Mary, women’s lacrosse), Drew Downing (Salisbury, men’s lacrosse), Carter Chesney (Salisbury, men’s soccer), Kennedy Evans (UMBC, women’s lacrosse), Paige Abbott (Towson, women’s lacrosse), Paiton Abbott (Towson, women’s lacrosse), JB Berry (Charleston Southern, baseball), Kristin Gruber (Mount St. Mary’s, women’s lacrosse), Sydni Carroll (Sacred Heart, softball), Julia Weiss (Kennesaw State, women’s lacrosse), Peyton Golueke (Shenandoah, women’s soccer), Madeline Davis (Salisbury, women’s lacrosse), Meghan Radnoff (Misericordia, field hockey), and Hannah Tingley (SUNY Buffalo State, ice hockey).

The Cavaliers’ girls lacrosse team outlasted Hereford in overtime to win their first state championship in program history in May with the help of Vasquenza, the Abbott sisters, Evans, Gruber, Weiss, and Davis.

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Chesney scored 24 goals to set a new county scoring record this fall en route to being named the 2019 Times Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

Westminster's Class of 2020 athletes on their signing day last month. From left, Haden Hoff, Evan Park, Logan Covey, Conner Covey, Chloe Sedlar, Katie Pettine, Madi Mills, Sophie Fischer, Faith Chmielewski, Jilienne Widener, Emily Stauder, Evan Warren, Matt Sexton.
Westminster's Class of 2020 athletes on their signing day last month. From left, Haden Hoff, Evan Park, Logan Covey, Conner Covey, Chloe Sedlar, Katie Pettine, Madi Mills, Sophie Fischer, Faith Chmielewski, Jilienne Widener, Emily Stauder, Evan Warren, Matt Sexton. (Courtesy Photo)

Westminster recognized Haden Hoff (Fairmont State, baseball), Evan Park (Newberry, men’s lacrosse), Logan Covey and Conner Covey (Marist, men’s lacrosse), Chloe Sedlar (Hofstra, women’s lacrosse), Katie Pettine (Kent State, women’s lacrosse), Madi Mills (Winthrop, women’s lacrosse), Sophie Fischer (Butler, women’s lacrosse), Faith Chmielewski (Marquette, women’s lacrosse), Jilienne Widener (Brown, volleyball), Emily Stauder (Millersville), volleyball, Evan Warren (Navy, football), and Matt Sexton (North Carolina State. swimming and diving).

The Covey twins helped lead the Owls to a second consecutive 3A state championship in 2019 and earned all-county honors as a result. The Owls’ girls lacrosse team shared similar success when they also went back-to-back with another state title victory last spring.

Widener, the four-time Times Volleyball Player of the Year, ended her senior season with 336 kills — the most in Carroll County — and compiled a .465 hitting percentage. She added 129 digs, 59 aces, and 21 blocks in leading the Owls to an undefeated regular season, an outright county title, and a spot in the 3A state semifinals.

Gerstell got in the mix as well with a pair of girls lacrosse players committing to Division 1 schools — Lauren Messinese (Rutgers) and Haley Gochnauer (Vanderbilt).

NOTE: Francis Scott Key and Winters Mill are planning college commitment ceremonies for later in the school year.

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