Lori Pasquantonio and Cathy Nelson bring different tools to the playing field, yet the eye-catching results they produce for Mount Hebron's top-ranked girls lacrosse team are remarkably similar.
Pasquantonio is a coach's dream. Fiercely dedicated to maintaining her endurance, she never met a distance run she didn't like. That work ethic carries over to the playing field. Put in her in the middle of a scramble for a loose ball, and you can bet the senior, who is second on Hebron's all-time ground ball list, will dig it out.
Nelson, a junior, is the smaller, quicker, flashier player of the pair. Blessed with sharp instincts around the goal, she has the ability to make the split-second decisions -- switch hands, pass or shoot? -- that coaches can't teach.
But the real name of their game is passing, shooting, and above all, scoring. Together, Pasquantonio and Nelson form an offensive monster that no team has matched this spring.
Through 13 games, the undefeated Vikings, who begin the defense of their 2A-1A state title in this weekend's regional playoffs, have scored a whopping 230 goals. Pasquantonio and Nelson have tallied 115, or half of them.
Pasquantonio has scored 53 goals and dished out 21 assists in 12 games. Nelson, who has played in all 13 games, has scored 62 goals and added 31 assists. They each have spent most of the season ranked in the top five in scoring in the metropolitan area.
"Lori is a tremendous competitor. Cathy is a more creative player around the cage. These kids can do so many things," Hebron coach P. J. Kesmodel said. "They can both play right- and left-handed, they both can roll the crease, they can cut, they can dodge. They can do it all."
They also have been building up to a season like this for three years. When Pasquantonio arrived at Hebron in 1989, after first picking up a lacrosse stick the previous summer in the Hero's league, she had a hard time cracking the starting lineup. During her sophomore season as a starter, she showed Kesmodel she was equally adept at scoring (30 goals) and hustling after ground balls (88).
That same season, Nelson arrived at Hebron after playing
lacrosse for several successful seasons at McDonogh Middle School. And at midseason, when then-star Megan Drake went down with an injury, Nelson came off the bench to score 21 goals. Another star was born.
"I was a little intimidated at first," Nelson recalled. "Once I got used to playing with them and started to get more playing time on such a good team, I loved it. I'm much more confident now."
DTC Last year, Pasquantonio and Nelson emerged as a scoring tandem. Their production -- Pasquantonio scored 60 goals with 39 assists, and Nelson had 49 goals and 33 assists -- played a huge role in Hebron's drive to its first state championship.
This year's performance is not surprising, considering the time they have spent playing and practicing together. Between Mount Hebron, the Hero's league, fall leagues and summer camps, Pasquantonio and Nelson have shared three full years of lacrosse. Last winter, they often could be found outside at Hebron, working on cuts and passes and creating trick shots.
"We read each other so well on the field, it's like a natural instinct now," Pasquantonio said. "We always try to out-do each other, but I don't think we've ever fought on the field or at practice. I want Cathy to do well. If she has an open shot, I like to get her the ball. The way she rolls the crease and gets inside defenders, I don't know how she does it."
Nelson is happy to return the favor and the compliment. "I like assisting her as much as I like scoring a goal. Lori is my first option," she said. "I wish I could pass and catch as well as she can. If I make a bad pass to her, she always somehow comes up with it."
While they seek to lead the Vikings to back-to-back state titles, Pasquantonio and Nelson also are rewriting Hebron's record book. Earlier this season in separate games, they passed Erin Quinn's single-game scoring record and now share the record of points.
Last month, Pasquantonio -- who is headed to Virginia on a
lacrosse scholarship -- became the school's all-time leading scorer. She now has 148 goals and 218 points for her career. Barring a serious injury next year, Nelson will pass her.
"And if Cathy continues to do what she's doing, she'll have her pick of any school in the country next year," Kesmodel said. "This is the best scoring combination we've ever had, no question about it."