South Carroll remains one to beat in county league BOYS LACROSSE PREVIEW


Their goals and expectations are different. Their journeys are even more diverse.

Tom Davidson and Jeff Alisauckas are coaching boys lacrosse at opposite ends of the county. Last year, both took over programs with unique obstacles to dodge.

A year later, they're settling in nicely.

At North Carroll, Davidson is doing whatever it takes to field a competitive team. It often means finding recruits from gym class or picking up athletes from other sports and converting them into lacrosse players.

Down in Winfield, the expectations were high from the start for Alisauckas, who replaced Gene Brown last season after seven straight county titles and eight consecutive region playoff appearances.

"Last year, I was still in the shadow of Gene Brown. In my opinion, he's one of the best lacrosse coaches around. It was tough," said Alisauckas, who guided the Cavaliers to their eighth county championship.

It didn't come easy. The Cavaliers dropped a 7-6 heart-breaker to Westminster in their county opener -- their first loss against the Owls since 1986 -- and then later had to come from behind in overtime to get by Liberty, 12-11.

"It was an exciting year with some ups and downs -- I learned a lot," Alisauckas said. "It was an educating year coming into a South Carroll program with the reputation it has. This year, I'm much more comfortable knowing my players know the program and what to expect. The first thing we talk about is making sure the kids understand the South Carroll tradition."

Before tradition comes foundation. Despite coming away with only one win last year, Davidson set the framework and earned respect from some of his peers.

"Davidson did an excellent job at North Carroll last season. They were always hustling and came right at you," said Westminster veteran coach Jim Peters. "They were as disciplined as they've ever been and he brought that."

Davidson was pleased to see four freshman playing on the junior varsity team who previously played in the North Carroll Recreation Program. It's not much when you look at what the other feeder programs -- Freedom and Gamber -- provide South Carroll, Liberty and Westminster on a regular basis, but it's a start.

In the meantime, the Panthers are doing the best they can with a raw group of players willing to work hard and learn. Davidson estimated 40 percent of his varsity players have played only one or two years of lacrosse. To continue to progress, he believes that eventually will have to change.

"We have to have players who can catch and throw before they get to the junior varsity and varsity levels," Davidson said. Shortly after, he added: "We're working a lot on catching and throwing this season. It's very positive, though. The kids work harder for you."

Peters added another perspective. "As a high school coach, the philosophy is to take them wherever they come to you and then take them to the next level," he said.

Back at South Carroll, Alisauckas has three of the county's top four scorers returning. The next level there is a return to the region playoffs. Alisauckas said a big plus is the fact he is teaching at South Carroll. Last year, he taught at Sykesville Middle.

"The rapport with the players is so much better this year. I see them in the halls and in class," Alisauckas said. "You could see it the first day of practice, everyone just bonded together."


The Liberty coaches switched assignments last year with Troy Barnes taking over as head coach and former head man Jim Langrall now his assistant. The transition was a smooth one with the Lions finishing 6-6 overall and giving South Carroll all it could handle in that overtime county finale. The two have coached together for five years at Liberty.

"Last year, we pretty much ran the team together," Barnes said. "The only change was I had the final call on anything. We're both very fortunate that we've been good friends awhile and work well together."

Barnes believes there will be more parity in the county with South Carroll still the team to beat.

His Liberty team and Westminster, with Peters entering his 14th season, should give the Cavaliers a good run with North Carroll steadily improving.

"It's going to take determination [to knock off South Carroll]. They are a very determined team and never quit. We found out the hard way last year," Barnes said. "North Carroll is stronger and has some tough kids. Peters always has Westminster ready to play, even in down years they are tough. South Carroll has the edge with past experience and the confidence it brings."


Look to see plenty of good midfield play in the county with a number of standouts continuing to emerge.

South Carroll's Dan Hughes took Player of the Year honors last season in his first year at the varsity level. In county play, he scored 14 goals and added four assists to lead the Cavaliers to another county title.

Westminster's Paul Binetti showed a player didn't have to be a big scorer to make a major impact. Binetti controlled games by winning faceoffs and scrappy play. In the Owls' 7-6 win against South Carroll, Binetti won draw after draw, including the last with 25 seconds to help run out the clock. A duo to watch at Liberty is Mark Ozgar and Chris Cougnet. They will be playing on the same line for their fourth season.

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