The girls lacrosse message in Anne Arundel County is coming across loud and clear.
"Go South, girls!"
The figures just don't lie.
The six public schools who will be competing in the South division this spring racked up an impressive total of 60 wins and 26 losses last season.
Up North, the six public schools checked in with a paltry 22-54 record last year.
Annapolis, Severna Park, Broadneck, South River, Arundel and Southern reside in the South division.
Chesapeake, North County, Old Mill, Northeast, Meade and Glen Burnie are in the North.
Expanding the issue to the three private schools in the county still presents a favorable case for the South.
St. Mary's and Severn finished with a combined 23-16 record (.590 winning percentage) despite a down 5-12 year for the Admirals.
Severn already competes in the AIS A Conference which is probably the toughest girls lacrosse league in the metro area, and St. Mary's will join the AIS A next year.
Archbishop Spalding is a program on the rise in the North and posted a 10-6 record (.625 winning percentage) last season to edge the St. Mary's-Severn combo.
But the gap between the South and North public schools is so large that one has to wonder if the North will ever catch up or even become a respectable threat to the South.
Annapolis girls lacrosse coach Dave Gehrdes doesn't think so.
"They have different priorities in the North like softball," said Gehrdes whose Panthers might be the best team in the entire metro area this season. "Lacrosse has been a tradition for boys and girls in the Annapolis area for years. It's like Baltimore city where people grew up with lacrosse at Gilman and Boys' Latin."
St. Mary's coach Erika Bristow said simply: "Lacrosse is huge in this part of the county."
Perhaps, Broadneck coach Jennifer Shuck characterized the South-North girls lacrosse situation as well as anyone could: "I don't want to be mean but those teams in the North aren't as strong as we are."
A frustrated Old Mill coach Priscilla Diacont believes there may be something to the South-North "priority thing" after a recent situation involving the Anne Arundel County Parks and Recreation Department.
"Cathy Samaras [Carin (longtime booster of lacrosse in the Annapolis area] and I tried to get the Old Mill High School gym to start a QuikStix program but we were turned down by the Parks and Recreation," said Diacont. "I don't know if it was because of basketball or what."
Diacont has met frustration at almost every turn as she tries to build a strong program at Old Mill which was 3-9 last season in her first year as head coach.
She has watched Arundel High, not Old Mill, reap the rewards of a lacrosse program she started for the Gambrills-Odenton Recreation Council.
The Wildcats are getting most of the GORC graduates.
Even Diacont's daughter, Karen, goes to Arundel and is a junior midfielder for the Wildcats who are coming off an 8-6 record and thinking big this season.
Old Mill, Meade, Northeast and Glen Burnie were a combined 5-43 last season, leaving 10-5 Chesapeake and 7-6 North County as the only two public schools in the North with winning records.
Chesapeake coach James Buchan is aware of the stranglehold softball has on the northern county schools and hopes to use it to help his girls lacrosse team.
"A different kind of athlete plays softball," he said. "Our kids know those kids and see how hard they work to be successful. Our kids have to do the same thing in lacrosse."
Chesapeake has won five state Class 4A girls softball championships since 1988.
In girls lacrosse this season, Chesapeake should win the North without any trouble. In the South, there should produce an exciting battle for the top spot.
Annapolis, Severna Park, Broadneck, Arundel and South River all have to be considered strong contenders for the South title.
The edge has to go to Annapolis over Severna Park in the continuation of their classic rivalry, with Broadneck and South River putting up their usual strong fights.
The Panthers have first-team All-Metro midfielder Amy Brew returning and two second-team All-Metro performers back in midfielder Becky Morris and defender Stephy Samaras.
Severna Park has a lot of talent and tradition and a coach, Carin Peterson, who knows her way around on the playing field and the sidelines.
Peterson was a midfielder for Severna Park in the middle 80s and continued her career at the University of Maryland. She later played in the World University Games and still plays for the Chesapeake Club team.
"It used to be way back when in the mid-'80s that no one could touch us, not even Annapolis," said Peterson. "Now you have Arundel and South River knocking on the door to join us, Annapolis, St. Mary's and Broadneck at the top of the county."
Pub Date: 3/22/96