Foresters find new world to conquer Expect tough competition among MPSSAA schools


Two years ago, Forest Park was the lacrosse champ in the Maryland Scholastic Association's C Conference. Last year, the Foresters moved up a level, going 13-1 for the B Conference title.

Just when the Foresters seemed to be running out of worlds to conquer, this year they entered a new one -- the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association -- where champions are crowned after postseason play.

Under coach Obie Barnes the Foresters are 46-2 over the last three-and-a-half seasons.

Friday's 6-5 victory over City was the Foresters' 16th straight since losing, 6-5, to Cardinal Gibbons last season. They twice avenged the Gibbons loss, 12-2, in the regular season last year, and 7-2 in last year's title game.

The Foresters returned eight starters from last year's squad, including senior attackman Ronald Foster, whose 35 goals and five assists have surpassed his point total of last year (28 goals, eight assists).

The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder runs a 4.5 40-yard -- and appears headed to Salisbury for lacrosse or Tuskegee for football.

"This is very exciting and I feel we're ready for the challenge of states," said Foster. "The expectancy is there, and we're ready for the big boys -- bring 'em on."

Forest Park has dominated city lacrosse, but will find out rather quickly whether it can compete in the state association. It is grouped in the same region -- 2A-1A, Region II -- as defending state champ Towson, which Barnes calls "an East Coast power."

"Playing a lot of 4A schools is definitely in our favor," said Barnes. "City, Poly and Edmondson are all tough. We've scouted right here in District 9, but we haven't had a chance to scout any of the regional teams."

This year's city public schools play in two leagues, with Southern dominating in the 3A division, and Forest Park having a 9-0 record in the 4A-2A division.

The Foresters own 12-3 and 7-3 wins over Edmondson, which returned seven starters from last year's 10-0 C Conference champion squad. They also have a 9-2 decision over City, which returned eight starters from last year's 9-3 C Conference squad. City was 6-0 before the Foresters stopped the Knights and All-Conference attackman Ben Posil the first time.

"We thought that game with City would be tough because City is very fast," said Barnes. "We took over in the second half and it was almost a blowout. We matched them step-for-step and we're happy with how the guys are playing."

On the horizon, however, are two games against Poly (7-1), an earlier 7-5 loser to City, including today's meeting at Forest Park.

"This year, we're trying to emphasize the fact that it's the first chance to win a District 9 championship," said Barnes. "The guys are used to pressure, and they realize they can make history."

Foster gets support from junior attackmen Dathan Jones (seven goals, 12 assists) and Keith Fatherly (13, three).

Junior midfielder James Heath, last year's top scorer with 32 goals and 12 assists, has 20 and 11 this year, including the game-winning goal in Friday's win over City. He also has an 85 percent success rate on faceoffs. Another junior midfielder is Dave Medlin, who has eight goals and six assists.

"Heath was at his best, without a doubt, in the Patterson game," said Barnes of the 13-4 victory. The Foresters also have a 13-3 win over Patterson.

"[The first game] was 4-4 at the half and we only lost one faceoff after that," said Barnes. "Foster's the scorer, but with Heath on the faceoffs, we can score within 30 seconds of the last goal."

Junior Corey Hill anchors the defense along with Ramadan Yasin, Lionell Yewitt and standout freshman keeper Sean Markley, who leads the area in save percentage.

"The offense and the defense just pulls together," said Hill, a 5-9, 147-pounder. "Our offense is great with the ball control, and when it gets on defense, we just get real pumped up."

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