Harding twins engineer wins for Eagles


It's hard not to notice the Harding twins.

At 6-foot-2, Tony plays left-crease attack and is the leading scorer (27 goals, 18 assists) for the sixth-ranked Centennial boys lacrosse team.

Brian, about a half-inch shorter, plays defensive midfield and carries a long stick with which he can pass as well as most short-stick players.

Tony's strength is his knack for finishing. Centennial is a highly skilled team whose passing combinations often end up going to Harding for put-away goals. He's a big, visible left-handed target.

Because so many of his goals are the result of his teammates' skills, Tony likes to deflect the credit for his offensive numbers.

"I may be the leading scorer, but the whole team deserves the credit. No one deserves more than anyone else," he said.

Tony does deserve credit for stepping up his intensity after a disappointing junior year. He was first-team All-County his sophomore year when he scored 36 goals and had 27 assists. Last season was a different story. His numbers dropped off to 27 goals and 21 assists.

"There was a lot of pressure to repeat my sophomore season, and I figured it would be easy," he said. "This year I changed my attitude and figured I'd have to work for everything I got."

He's playing harder, scrapping for more ground balls and pushing himself to succeed at one-on-ones.

With his speed, he scores a lot of fast-break goals, because the Eagles have the talent to string several passes together.

Last Saturday in the championship game of the John Carroll Tournament, Tony scored a career-high six goals and had an assist. The effort earned him the award for offensive player of the tournament.

"He beat the goalkeeper one-on-one Saturday, and we usually don't make our attackmen go one-on-one," Centennial coach Mike Siegert said. "He's playing like he's having fun, after taking a back seat to his brother last season."

Brian made first-team All-County last season. He plays the wing on faceoffs, and his stick skills and speed allow him to excel at riding and clearing.

He was one of four outstanding defensive players Centennial had last season, and because he was the fastest of the four, he played midfield. He kept his long stick, however.

Brian usually defenses the top offensive midfielder on the opposing team and is part of a defensive midfield unit that Siegert named "Magic."

"Coaches have asked me if Brian is better than [Matt] Rainwater [Centennial's top defenseman]," Siegert said. "Coaches are always saying: 'Boy that No. 30 -- he's something.' "

Brian scored his first career goal Saturday against North Harford and added two assists. He was picked to the all-tournament team.

"They are guys you can count on in tough times at the end of games," Siegert said. "They have excellent skills and attitudes and are the kind of hard workers that make coaching fun."

When it comes to identifying the twins, Siegert sometimes has trouble -- like everyone else.

"I finally noticed that Brian parts his hair in the middle, and Tony parts his on the side," he said.

Brian said, "I have a little longer hair, and Tony is a little taller. Even our parents still have trouble telling us apart."

Both are good students headed to college engineering programs.

Brian (3.7 GPA) has a one-third scholarship to Drexel -- $5,000 of that for lacrosse and $3,000 for academics.

Tony (3.5 GPA) is headed to Virginia Tech, which now has only a club team, but is expected to start a varsity program soon.

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