The Gators are coming, and they're armed to the teeth.
Before getting the school's first-ever victory over No. 9 Dulaney, 11-7, Tuesday, No. 15 Perry Hall had devoured its competition, scoring 188 goals against its opponents' 32 -- a difference of about 13 goals a game.
Most of the scoring comes from the Gators' attackmen, all of whom are juniors, led by three-year starter Nick Cowan (56 goals, 35 assists). The Gators' second-leading scorer is Jeff Taylor (38, 26), followed by Mike Faith (35, 24).
"All three units -- offense, midfield and defense -- are balanced," said Perry Hall lacrosse coach Bill Dunkerton, who calls this year's 12-0 Gators one of the better programs in his 13 seasons.
Perry Hall won its fourth game this year, 14-7, over a Hereford squad that was 7-2 entering last Friday's loss to defending 2A-1A state champ Towson. Hereford's top four scorers have more than 110 goals and 80 assists.
The Gators' sixth victory came by 13-7 over Park, of the Maryland Scholastic Association's B Conference. Park was 4-0 before the Gators shut down Matt Weiner, its top-scoring All-Conference player.
Perry Hall was 8-0 after a 13-4 win over a Franklin squad which "pretty much dominated us last year," Cowan said. And 11 Gators scored in a 24-3 rout of Eastern Vocational Tech.
"The midfield scraps for ground balls, the defense has been shutting people down and the offense is very productive," said Dunkerton, whose assistants are midfielders coach Bill Dunkerton Jr. and defensive coordinator Steve Dauses, a graduate of Calvert Hall and Hofstra. "This is really the deepest team I've had as far as skills and ability."
Although the Gators are prolific offensively, defense has been equally important, with Park, Hereford and Dulaney scoring just seven times each against Perry Hall. Least successful were EVT, Woodlawn (a 29-1 victory), Parkville (18-0), Randallstown (17-0), Kenwood (19-2) and Dundalk (17-3).
Dulaney had won six 4A-3A state titles, including three straight before being dethroned by Broadneck last year. But the Gators limited the Lions' high-scoring attack of Dan Sherwood (32 goals, 21 assists), Matt Steil (21, 35) and Mike Hohl (33, 16) to a combined two goals and three assists.
"We're very confident back there," said defender Ryan Pancake, who, with Mike Cavaselis, anchored the defense as freshmen last season. Dave Augustyniak, a junior, is Perry Hall's third defender.
"We've been looking forward to Dulaney since last year," said Pancake. "We thought we could handle them."
Gone to graduation is the starting midfield from last year's 9-2 squad, but "it wasn't difficult for the others to step in," Dunkerton said. The returning midfielders -- three of whom play other sports -- are the team's athletes.
Midfielder Brad Bornman, one of just two seniors who starts, was a top scoring soccer player last fall with 21 goals and seven assists on a county championship team. Midfielder Mike Katcher, the team's other senior, also played soccer, and a third midfielder, faceoff specialist Joe Farinetti, wrestled and played football.
Midfielder Mike Melka is just a freshman, but he's the team's fourth best scorer with 10 goals and five assists.
"It's nice that we're finally getting some attention," said Cowan. "Dulaney's the one that mattered most, without a doubt."