Gilman saw this same preseason ranking -- No. 2 in the area -- a year ago, only to miss the postseason tournament by a hair.

It was part of a wacky season during which the eventual champ -- top-ranked St. Mary's -- rose from a No. 12 ranking to beat Boys' Latin -- ranked No. 5 -- while Mount St. Joseph, ranked No. 8 this year, finished further back in the pack.

The league, called the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association this year, will again be loaded with Gilman, Boys' Latin and Mount St. Joseph -- the three private schools in the city -- along with No. 1 St. Mary's, No. 3 St. Paul's, No. 4 Loyola and No. 7 Severn all lining up to take their best shots.

In the city public schools league last year, Forest Park, City and Poly shared the 2A-4A division title, while Southern won last year's 3A crown.

This year, however, city teams will compete in one league. And Forest Park -- 47-5 over the past four seasons under coach Obie Barnes -- looks like the team to beat with nine returning starters.

Archbishop Curley Friars 1993 record: 2-9. Coach: Barry Brownlee.

Top players: Jeff Fabiszak, G, Sr.; John Foos, D, Sr.; Neil Fitzpatrick, D, Sr.; Joe Cieslak, D, Jr.; Chris Coker, A, Jr.; Tim Asher, A, Jr.; Mario Maney, M, Sr.

Outlook: Four of Curley's losses last year came by one goal, so Brownlee hopes this year's team learned from those experiences. The two leading scorers from last year (Coker and Asher) are back. "Hopefully, with a little more experience we can win some of those close ones," said Brownlee.

Boys' Latin Lakers 1993 record: 12-4. Coach: Bob Shriver.

Top players: Chris Gettman, D, Sr.; Bennett Dear, D, Sr.; Scott Hochstadt, A, Jr.; John Fuller, A, Jr.; Chris Turner, A, Jr.

Outlook: Despite losing three first-team All-Metro players from a squad that made it to the MSA playoffs last year, the Lakers look strong. The attack is loaded, with Hochstadt (last year's No. 2 scorer), Turner (the junior varsity MVP last year), Fuller, seniors Ned Webster and Mike Harrison and junior Brad Gilroy. The defense is solid, but the midfield lacks experience, and preseason ailments to J. D. Radebaugh (ankle) and transfer Matt Swift (virus) didn't help. "We lost four Division I players that were the heart and sole of our team," said Shriver. "We have a fair amount returning, but we need a presence on midfield."

Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders 1993 record: 3-7. Coach: John Mosier.

Top players: Robert Wright, Sr., A; Chris Cortina, Sr., M; Chris Feehley, Sr., M.

Outlook: Mosier, who has spent the last five seasons helping Gilman build one of the area's top lacrosse programs, will try and work some magic at Gibbons. "We have a lot of athletic ability," said Mosier. "As a team, we'll just try and improve each time we go out on the field. With a little luck, maybe we can get in the B Conference championship."

City Knights 1993 record: 9-3. Coach: George Petrides.

Top players: Seth Murphy, Sr., D; Ben Posil, Sr., A; Xavier Logan, Sr., D; Ron Helmick, Sr., M; Frank Hutson, Jr., G.

Outlook: The Knights last year twice beat Poly, which twice beat Forest Park, which twice beat City as the three teams finished as City-Wide tri-champs. Posil (39 goals, 17 assists), who led city scorers, and Murphy were second-team All-City players. Hutson averaged 16 saves and Logan (6-0, 260) should help out. "We don't quite have last year's depth, but we have nice defense," said Petrides.

Carver Bears 1993 record: 4-6. Coach: Jason Green.

Top players: James Hall, Sr., M; Cedric Robinson, Sr., M; Brandon Summers, Soph., G; Alex Gough, Fr., D.

Outlook: Green is optimistic about improving. There is Robinson, whom Green calls one of the city's best stick handlers, and Hall (6-2, 210), along with 17 others who can catch and throw well. "With several young kids up from the middle schools, I think we have just as good a shot as anybody," Green said.

Edmondson Redskins 1993 record: 3-9. Coach: Crawford Dennard.

Top players: Omar Richmond, Sr., M/A/D; Alvin Ledbetter, Sr., D; Qwan Finch, Sr., D; Charles Sanders, Sr., A; Corey Brown, Soph., M.

Outlook: With seven returning starters, including top scorer Richmond, coach Dennard is "looking forward to a good season." Brown is the team's best overall player, and Ledbetter (6-3, 230) anchors the defense.

Forest Park Foresters 1993 record: 10-3. Coach: Obie Barnes.

Top players: James Heath, Sr., M; Corey Hill, Sr., D; Dathan Jones, Sr., A; Keith Fatherly, Sr., M; Sean Markley, Soph., A.

Outlook: From last year's squad, which lost, 8-7, to Cambridge in the playoffs, nine starters return, including second-team All-City Heath (28 goals, 15 assists), Fatherly (23, four), Jones (11, 17) and Markley, who moves to the attack as Jermaine Dickerson takes over in the goal. "We have the potential to be better than last year," said Barnes, adding that ground-ball leader Newman Thompson should become eligible with six games left.

Friends Quakers 1993 record: 11-1. Coach: Jon Garman.

Top players: Mike Fine, G, Jr.; Ben Thompson, D, Sr.; Adam Dougherty, M, Jr.; Steve Travieso, M, Sr.; Myles Perkins, M, Sr.

Outlook: Friends, last year's MSA B Conference champion, may be looking at a rebuilding year. The Quakers lost their entire JTC starting attack, top two midfielders and two starting defensemen . In addition, John Carroll -- a team that Friends never has beat -- moved into the B Conference in the newly aligned MIAA.

Gilman Greyhounds 1993 record: 12-3. Coach: John Tucker.

Top players: Mark Cornes, M, Sr.; Lorne Smith, A, Jr.; Mike Allan, A, Sr.; Corey Popham, G, Jr.; Tom Coleman, D, Sr.; Chase Martin, A, Soph.

Outlook: Expectations are high at Gilman this year, and with good reason. The Greyhounds, whose three losses last year were by a total of four goals, return a first-team All-Metro midfielder (Cornes) and their top four attackmen from last season, so scoring won't be a problem. Goalie Popham has started since his freshman year. "We'll be able to compete with anyone," said Tucker.

Lake Clifton Lakers 1993 record: 5-7. Coach: John Baker.

Top players: Ricky Matthews, Sr., M; David Fulgham, Jr., G; Tory Gilliard, Jr., D; Nate Moyd, Jr., A; Paul Preston, Jr., A.

Outlook: Nine starters return, including Fulgham -- who scored 11 times from his goalie position last year -- and Preston, who has 68 career goals among his 84 career points. "We've got some talent, and some guys who are hungry and know my system," said Baker.

Mervo Mustangs 1993 record: 1-12. Coach: Martin Church.

Top players: Antonio Powell, Sr., M; Andre Lofton, Jr., M; Joe Cole, Jr., A; Kenny Brown, Soph., A; James Bartee, Soph., A.

Outlook: The Mustangs return two attackmen, two midfielders and three defensemen from last year's squad and Church has high hopes of improving on that record. Tijon Long looks good in switching from defenseman to goalie. "There are others who had some time and we had 35 people in camp," Church said.

Mount St. Joseph 1993 record: 9-8. Coach: Drew Bowden.

Top players: Matt Hipszer, A, Sr.; Bo Schrott, A, Sr.; Jason Newman, M, Jr.; Brian Kelly, D, Jr.

Outlook: The Gaels only need to replace two starters from last year's team, but they're a first-team All-Metro attackman and one of the best goalies in the area. Mount St. Joseph, still a young team, will look to senior attackmen Hipszer and Schrott, who each scored 25 goals last year, for offense. Starting goalie Jay Born, a sophomore, moves up from the JV.

Northern Vikings 1993 record: 0-10. Coach: John Cooper.

Top players: Quinton Lloyd, Sr., M; Antoine Stokes, Sr., G; Ricky Hom, Sr., D; Kalish Hicks, Soph., M; Rico Ruffin, Soph., M.

Outlook: With nine returning starters, Cooper has high hopes this season of winning a few games. "I feel good about doing that [improving] since we started to come around at the end of last season," Cooper said.

Northwestern Wildcats 1993 record: 10-3. Coach: John Baumann.

Top players: Antoine Thomas, Sr., D; Ronel Legrande, Sr., D; Sadique Allison, Jr., M; Kevin Watson, Jr., D; Tim Isaacs, Jr., A.

Outlook: There are seven starters back, including four-year veteran Legrande, faceoff specialist Kevin Ruff and solid scorers Allison (10 goals, 10 assists) and Robert Pouncey (five, 24). "We're in a much tougher league this year," Baumann said. "We've got a solid defense, but we've also got a freshman goalie and a few kids who've never played lacrosse."

Patterson Clippers 1993 record: 4-8. Coach: Bob Ecklund.

Top players: Jason Busch, Sr., A; Torry Sadler, Sr., A; Joe Mechlinski, Jr., M; Charles Lund, Jr., G.

Outlook: Five starters are back, led by Busch, a fourth-year veteran; third-year veterans Lund and Mechlinski; and second-year starter Sadler. Busch, Sadler and Mechlinski should generate the offense. "I like this team," Ecklund said. "It has enthusiastic kids who enjoy the game. "

Poly Engineers 1993 record: 10-3. Coach: Augie Waibel.

Top players: Mica Hartman, Sr., A; Jim Wisniewski, Sr., M; Morrison Wheeler, Sr., M; Michael Bayne, Soph., D.

Outlook: The city tri-champion Engineers return just four starters, but that includes three of their five top scorers from last year in second-team All-City player Wisniewski (25 goals, 15 assists), Hartman (20, five) and Wheeler. "If the younger players come around as quickly as we hope, we should be OK," said Waibel.

Southern Bulldogs 1993 record: 9-2. Coach: Bill Nagle.

Top players: Bernard Cox, Sr., D; Joey Turner, Jr., G; William Lewis, Soph., D.

Outlook: Last year's 3A city champs move up to the 4A with only two returning starters -- Turner and Cox -- and they're on defense. The Bulldogs lost five veterans to graduation. "We've got two freshmen and a sophomore on attack," said Nagle. "It's basically a brand new team that's still at the pass-and-catch stage."

Southwestern Sabers 1993 record: 7-5. Coach: John Hammond.

Top players: Ray Conklin, Sr., M; Darrell Parker, Sr., M; Chris Ulrich, Sr., D; Kenneth Klein, Sr., D; Eugene Warren, Jr., G.

Outlook: Eight starters are back for the Sabers. "We're going to be inexperienced on the attack, but if that comes together, we'll have a good season," Hammond said.

Walbrook Warriors 1993 record: 2-8. Coach: Richard Hall.

Top players: Warren Turner, Jr., A.

Outlook: Turner, Walbrook's top scorer with 25 goals and 10 assists, may be his squad's only returning starter, but opponents shouldn't be surprised by the Warriors' overall skill level. "It looks like some middle school kids are stepping up to assist Turner, and the schedule change increases our chances to win games," said Hall.

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