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NCAA lacrosse tourney chock full of county players

THE BALTIMORE SUN

You won't have to look too hard to find an Anne Arundel County athlete in tomorrow's quarterfinal round of the NCAA men's lacrosse championships.

Twenty-six countians are scattered among the rosters of five of the eight teams in the field.

Of those, more than half (17) attended Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference affiliates Severn and St. Mary's.

"I think it certainly shows the strength of the programs down here," Severn coach Rob White said. "But to be fair, you have to go down to the bottom, to the rec leagues. The success we've had at the high school level is a direct benefactor of the great jobs of the many volunteers.

"For us at Severn, we owe a lot to the Severna Park Green Hornets. The enthusiasm and fundamentals are already there when we get these kids."

St. Mary's leads the pack with nine of its alumni playing at three final-eight schools, including six at Maryland.

Freshman attackman Rob Chomo has been most productive for the sixth-seeded Terps, who advanced by beating Duke last Saturday, 13-11.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is the second-leading scorer for Maryland with 16 goals and 24 assists.

"You couldn't ask for better competition than in Anne Arundel County and the MSA A Conference to get you ready for college," Chomo said before practice yesterday at College Park. "Anne Arundel County is the place to be if you're into lacrosse."

Sophomore midfielders Neal Dupcak and Tom Fichtner and sophomore goalie Matt Back (13 saves) have seen spot action for the Terrapins, but senior Brian "Bubba" Burlace and sophomore Steve Hayes have been key members of the Maryland defense.

Two former St. Mary's stars, sophomores Kevin Krupinsky and Carl Tamulevich, have taken their acts to Towson State, but aren't expected to make too much of an impact when the fourth-seeded Tigers play host to Johns Hopkins at 8 p.m.

Krupinsky, a 1989 graduate of St. Mary's, has taken just four shots in eight games for the Tigers, while Tamulevich has seen action in just seven games.

Another former Saint, freshman goalie Chris Brown, is at North Carolina where he is being redshirted.

Severn School will have eight of its alumni suited up tomorrow, including three with No. 2 seed North Carolina (11-2), two at both Maryland and Princeton, and senior midfielder Drew Burns at Johns Hopkins.

Switching from the Severn maroon to the Carolina blue were sophomores Ryan Wade and Rick Codd, and freshman Spencer Reckner.

Wade, the Anne Arundel County Sun's Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year in 1990, is the Tarheels' fourth-leading scorer with 23 goals and seven assists. When he's not scoring or assisting, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound attackman is handling the faceoff chores for the defending national champs.

So far, Wade has won 29 of 51 faceoffs for a .569 winning percentage.

Codd, a 6-foot, 190-pound attackman, has contributed seven goals and two assists this season, while Reckner has netted one goal in four games.

Severn alumni Craig Bull and Steve Weinress are two of the 10 Anne Arundel natives playing at College Park. Bullen, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior midfielder, netted 11 goals and four assists in his final campaign for the Terrapins, while Weinress, a sophomore defender, has seen limited action in nine games.

Severn graduates Highley Thompson (two goals, one assist) and Charlie Herrick (one assist) will get a chance to see some old teammates when their team, third-seeded Princeton (10-2), plays host to No. 6 Maryland at noon tomorrow.

Broadneck and South River each will have two former players competing in first-round action this weekend.

Former Bruins Lindsay Dixon and Andy Claxton will take the field for Towson State and Maryland (9-4), respectively, while former Seahawks Brian McElhenny (Maryland) and Erik Chick (Johns Hopkins) will do everything in their power to prolong the season for their schools.

Dixon, a senior and the Tigers' second-leading scorer and highest-scoring midfielder with 23 goals and 12 assists, will try and help Towson return to the tournament final. Last season, Dixon's extra-man goal just 14 seconds into the third overtime of the NCAA quarterfinal game with Princeton gave Towson a 14-13 victory and its first-ever berth in the final four.

This year, Dixon, an All-East Coast Conference selection, is hoping for as happy an ending albeit, a less dramatic one.

"It would be great if I could do it again, but right now I'm hoping it doesn't come down to that," said Dixon, a 1987 graduate of Broadneck. "That puts too much pressure on your heart."

As Maryland's faceoff specialist, Claxton, has had no other option but to handle the pressure. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior has yet to give in, winning 167 of 258 faceoffs for a .650 winning percentage.

Annapolis, Severna Park and Andover (now part of North County) each have a former player in the quarterfinals. Annapolis' Gary Williams can be found on the sidelines for Towson State (9-2), along with Andover graduate Brian Sabo, while Sean Crawford (six goals, one assist), a product of Severna Park, is on the Maryland roster.

Two more countians, who took their playing talents outside of the county during their high school careers, will try and help No. 5 Johns Hopkins to escape Towson State's Minnegan Stadium unscathed at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Linthicum resident Jeff Wills, who played high school ball for Loyola, is the Blue Jays' third-leading scorer with 27 goals and 20 assists, while Ray Pensy, who resides in Deale but attended DeMatha of Prince George's County, has played a reserve role as a freshman keeper for the Blue Jays.

When told how many of his former players would be involved in tomorrow's quarterfinal round, St. Mary's coach Jim Moorhead paused and asked in astonishment, "Is it really that many? That's remarkable."

Like most, Moorhead attributes the strong local showing to dedicated volunteers at the recreation level and a growing number of quality coaches in the high school ranks.

"More and more kids are playing lacrosse each year, and the more kids you have, the better the chances of getting better players," said Moorhead. "Personally, I think that number is going to continue to grow."

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