ALL-COUNTY LAX VOTE TAINTED BY GRUDGES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

What happened Wednesday night at the girls lacrosse coaches' annual All-County meeting is just another example of why the county coaches ought to give up selecting All-County teams.

True, it goes on in other sports, but the latest unjustified voting, apparently inspired by the dislike of one particular coach, has cost an outstanding playeran honor she clearly earned.

North County's Stephanie Meyer, the most prolific girls lacrosse scorer in the metro area, has become the victim of coaches who must wear blinders.

We in the media take some heat from time to time about who we name to All-County teams, but I guarantee you we don't get into personal vendettas, personality contests and whether we like a coach before we decide to vote for one of his or her players.

It's our goal to pick the very best players regardless of the coach they play for or any other personal consideration. I am convinced that is not so with the coaches, even though they won't talk about it. Too often they hold grudges against other coaches at the expense of the players.

I don't know how else you can explain the exclusion of North County's senior attackman from the Coaches All-County 4A-3A Team. Meyer was the county and metro area's leading scorer with 70 goals and 21 assists for a total of 161 points.

There were times this season that Meyer single-handedly outscored the opposition. In the first-year Knights' clash with defending state champion Severna Park, a tough 9-8 loss, Meyer outscored the Falcons, 5-3, in the first half and finished with six goals.

No question that Meyer's ability to put the ball in the cage carried the Knights to an overall .500 season (7-7) in its first year up in the rugged Class 4A League. Yet she was not voted first-team All-County by the coaches.

"I'll tell you why. It's because a lot of the women coaches don't like me," said fiery NorthCounty coach Tom Taylor, who was still hot two days after the meeting.

When the coaches announced that the top scorer in the area was not on the second team and fifth out of six in the voting among the top three on each team, Taylor blew his mind.

"I walked out of the meeting because it was so unfair to Stephanie, and (Old Mill coach) Bruce Sponsler was behind me," said Taylor. "(Chesapeake coach) Jim Buchan said the whole thing was ridiculous.

"There are only three ofus (male coaches among the eight Class 4A schools that have teams), and these meetings turn into the men coaches vs. the women coaches, and that's not fair to the kids."

Upon learning that Meyer had not made first team as Severna Park's Carin Peterson, who chaired the meeting, announced the results of the voting, Taylor stood up and told the group, "It's a real shame that you people don't like me and take it out on my players. Stephanie deserves to be on first team."

The procedure is for the coaches to vote one through six based on the order of the players' ability. Those named No. 1, 2 or 3 on a coach's list garner six, five or four points, respectively, and so on. The three highest point-makers are named first team.

What bothers Taylor is that some coaches voted for only three players instead of the full six, which could be a ploy to prevent certain players from getting points, and that's pretty sad.

The voting resulted in Severna Park'sHillory Kuker getting the most points, followed by Diane McBee of Chesapeake and Alison Zaetz of Old Mill. Cory Harmon of Annapolis had the fourth-highest total, ahead of fifth-place Meyer and sixth-place Becca Fink of Broadneck. Harmon and Fink are juniors; the rest are seniors.

Now let's take a look at the stats, and first tell you that the names of Severna Park and Broadneck players don't appear on published leading scorer lists. Peterson and Broadneck coach Mary Hart simply don't bother calling in stats, which I always have believed is a coach's responsibility.

No one knows Kuker's total stats. She is undoubtedly an outstanding player, but how do we know how she comparesto the other girls in terms of productivity when her coach doesn't reveal her stats?

Peterson is one of those who believes the less other teams know about her stars, the better. It's called the "no name"approach. That's the way she wants it, and that's her prerogative.

McBee, with 66 goals, was second only to Meyer in scoring and Zaetz, with 58 goals, was third. Those two are legitimate in that McBee was the big gun for the finest team in Chesapeake history (the team took a 14-0 record into yesterday's state 4A-3A final against Severna Park) and for four years, Zaetz has been a symbol of offensive power.

Zaetz has averaged more than 100 points in each of her four years in a spectacular high school career.

So, with the No. 2 and No. 3 scorers finishing in just that order in the balloting, how can the coaches justify leaving off Meyer, the top scorer, and naming Kuker, with her unknown stats, and junior Harmon of Annapolis, who had only 38 goals, ahead of the North County star?

Shawn Moyer, a member of the North County boys lacrosse team and the first sophomore ever named to the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County Academic Athletic Team, wasso upset by Meyer being snubbed that he called me at 6:30 a.m. Friday to talk about it.

"Here's a question without answer for you, Mr.O'Malley: How could the women's lacrosse coaches leave the area's leading scorer off the first-team All-County?" said Moyer. "I can't believe they would do that. It's really unfair."

It's also unfair to Taylor and other coaches who go out of their way to call all the local newspapers to promote their players, nominate them for Player of the Week, All-County teams and other honors. Those coaches know the value of publicity to the players and how it truly does get them noticedby college coaches and recruiters.

At the same time, I don't know too many players and their parents who don't like to see their names in the paper.

Over the years, I've received many phone calls andletters from players, coaches and parents who have told me how a college coach visited the area to see somebody else and might have come to see their youngster after reading about him or her in the newspaper.

That's how the so-called best-kept secrets and diamonds in the rough are found.

Taylor has had his differences with the other coaches because of his aggressive style, but why should his personality cost a deserving player?

I wouldn't be making such a big deal overall this if we were talking about the No. 10 scorer instead of the No. 1 scorer in the area, a player who put up the numbers against everybody, including the good teams. Some teams, including Severna Park in the second half, had to triple-team Meyer to stop her.

Say what you want about Meyer possibly being a gunner and make the argument that if other stars got to shoot as much, they, too, would ring up the same numbers. Maybe they would, but consider that Meyer did not have the supporting cast others had and she had to make things happen for her team.

Despite being the most marked player, she still producedincredibly high numbers. It's doubtful that no one, except possibly McBee and Zaetz, got more attention from opponents than Meyer.

Some might say that being the leading scorer doesn't necessarily mean you're All-County, but when you lead the area with 161 total points, how can you not be?

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