South Carroll's Dan Hughes was incorrectly identified in this photo that appeared in some editions yesterday.
COACH OF THE YEAR
* Troy Barnes, Liberty -- There have been more talented teams at Liberty in years past, but none got as far into the postseason as this year's team. The Lions, with a handful of inexperienced players and just one All-County first-team selection in senior midfielder Chris Cougnet, advanced to the region finals this season after the school's first postseason win. It came in the region semifinals, where the Lions (8-6) came away with a 13-10 win over Atholton in their typical, grind-it-out way. Despite being eliminated in the region finals against Oakland Mills, the Lions' program took a big step forward. At the team banquet following the season, players were already talking about next spring. That wasn't always the case at Liberty. "We ended up on a positive note and the boys are proud of what they did. You can see the kids wanting to go forward," said second-year coach Barnes. "I'm proud of the way our team conducted themselves, win or lose." The Lions won a lot of games they probably shouldn't have with their blue-collar style. There were other times when they were simply overmatched, but Barnes had a way of keeping them positive and prepared for the next challenge.
FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE
* Paul Binetti, Westminster, Sr., midfield -- Few players have earned more respect from opposing county coaches than Binetti did the past couple of seasons. The repeat first-team selection again provided the Owls with all the intangibles that often go unnoticed. When there was a face-off to be won, Binetti was there. "He was controlling 70 percent of the face-offs he took in most games," said Westminster coach Jim Peters. "In my 14 years, we had some really great [face-off men] and he's right there at the top. He's the closest thing you'll find to the early 60s, 60-minute midfielders -- he was a workhorse." The co-captain finished the season with six goals and 13 assists, but was responsible for many more goals with his ability to win draws.
* Chris Cougnet, Liberty, Sr., midfield -- The senior co-captain brought his "hate-to-lose" approach to the field with him every game and it was a big influence on the younger Lions. He finished the season with 17 goals and 10 assists and also worked hard defensively. "Chris is solid at both ends of the field," said Barnes. "He plays the solid defense, is a good checker and can also has two good hands. Right is his strong hand, but he also rolls left. He's very competitive and can't stand losing."
* John Eaton, South Carroll, Sr., attack -- The Cavaliers didn't have to look long this season to find their feeder. Eaton accepted the role and proved to be the perfect complement to leading goal-scorer Tom Luster and the rest of the Cavaliers, dishing out a school-record 41 assists and leading the county in points with 67 to make a serious run at Player of the Year honors. "It got to the point where goalies were thinking he was going to shoot and instead he'd find someone across the crease," said South Carroll coach Jeff Alisauckas. Eaton set single-game standards at South Carroll with a 12-point effort against Howard during the regular season.
* Ben Heslin, Westminster, Sr., defense -- Being the county's best take-away checkers wasn't the only asset Heslin brought to the Westminster defense. But it was the one that was most noticed. "He threw more checks at you in a second than anyone else in the county," said Westminster coach Jim Peters. "He went up against the county's best and picked their pockets." The 6-3 Heslin, a two-time, first-team selection who will next play at the Air Force Academy, also brought smarts to the playing field to go along with his aggressive ways. He was an outstanding position defender and great stick handler.
* Dan Hughes, South Carroll, Sr., midfield -- Hughes, Carroll's Player of the Year as a junior, followed that with another impressive season as the Cavaliers' mainstay at midfield. He would carry the ball up the field for South Carroll and also proved to be a fine finisher, scoring 32 goals and adding 11 assists to give the Cavs another valuable option to go along with their strong attack. "We had a couple of plays just for him," said Jeff Alisauckas. "He's a big lefty who had a real nice year for us offensively."
* Bert Magladry, North Carroll, Sr., defense -- A strong position defender, Magladry was not only the glue to the Panthers' defense, but their entire team. The inexperienced Panthers had a tough time this season, but Magladry was always there to keep everybody's head up. On the field, he used his quickness and knack of knowing where to be to hold his own against the opposing team's most dangerous attackman. "He was the driving force of the team," said North Carroll coach Tom Davidson. "He knew the team wasn't very experienced, but he kept the guys going. He has a good sense of knowing where he should be and doesn't get himself out of position."
* Mike Robitaille, South Carroll, Sr., defense -- The senior made a smooth transition from midfield, where he played last season. He gave the Cavaliers defense plenty of speed, quickness and finesse. Always assigned to the opponents' top offensive player, Robitaille thrived on the role and kept the overwhelming majority in check. "He has the legs with his quickness and speed and worked on his stick handling where he could go left or right, that's rare for a defender. He did an outstanding job," said Alisauckas.
* Tom Shaffer, South Carroll, Sr., goalie -- Another name was added to the long list of standout goalies at South Carroll. The Cavaliers' defense was full of new faces this season -- including Shaffer's -- and he turned out to be the most pleasant surprise. Shaffer led a defense that gave up only 87 goals in 15 games -- just under six goals a game. He came up with 126 saves on the year as the Cavaliers allowed only one goal against three different opponents this year. What impressed Alisauckas the most about his senior goalie was his ability to distribute after making a save. "The goalie is the toughest spot to replace and Tom did an outstanding job," Alisauckas said. "Once he gets the ball, he knows what to do with it. He sees the entire field and found the running midfielders."
* Rob Witte, South Carroll, Jr., attack -- Few expected the kind of offense Witte supplied this season with the likes of veterans Luster, Eaton and Hughes surrounding him. The Cavaliers found plenty of ways to let Witte in on their scoring parade and he took advantage, coming up with 35 goals and 11 assists on the season. Alisauckas will look for even more out of Witte next season. "We knew he had the talent, but we didn't expect to get that much from him this season," said Alisauckas. "He is a hard worker and you can tell him to do something and he'll do it. He likes to take the ball hard to the cage."
Player of the Year: Tom Luster, South Carroll
7+ Coach of the Year: Troy Barnes, Liberty
) Name, School, Year, Pos.
Paul Binetti, Westminster, Senior, Midfield
Chris Cougnet, Liberty, Senior, Midfield
John Eaton, South Carroll, Senior, Attack
Ben Heslin, Westminster, Senior, Defense
Dan Hughes, South Carroll, Senior, Midfield
Tom Luster, South Carroll, Senior, Attack
Bert Magladry, North Carroll, Senior, Defense
Mike Robitaille, South Carroll, Senior, Defense
Tom Shaffer, South Carroll, Senior, Goalie
Rob Witte, South Carroll, Junior, Attack
Jeff Bachman, Zach Dietrich, Mark Miller, Ryan Pagels, Liberty; Marc Barnes, Jeremy Esworthy, Martin Oswiecimka, South Carroll; Dave Baker, Jonathan Gibson, Dave Hare, Jed Harris, Mark Ruby.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: TOM LUSTER
South Carroll, senior, attack -- When South Carroll coach Jeff Alisauckas would call time out late in a game needing a big goal, the play always was designed for Luster. It's been that way the past three years at South Carroll. All the opposing defenses knew, but few could find a way to shut down Luster, who earned All-America status by the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Association and the U.S. Lacrosse Coaches Association last week. Luster finished the season with 39 goals -- the county high that also tied a school record -- and added 23 assists to help lead the Cavaliers to their ninth straight county title. "He was very difficult to cover one-on-one and is deceptively strong," said Liberty coach Troy Barnes. "He also really smart and by that I mean he knows where to put the ball and his body in different situations. He ran the show at South Carroll and complemented the other players. They fed on each other." He closed out his career as South Carroll's all-time leader in goals (88) and points (134). "He had an outstanding season and came a long way," Alisauckas said. "Tommy was our man. When we needed a goal, he was the guy we'd try to get the ball to." He scored seven times in a win against Howard late in the season -- tying another school record.