Kelly Dirks and Brooke Wagner are two standout seniors on the Annapolis girls lacrosse team. And yesterday they were one big problem for No. 13 Liberty.
Dirks and Wagner imposed their will on the Lions' defense, combining for nine goals and seven assists in leading seventh-ranked Annapolis (19-1) to a 15-6 win in the Class 3A-4A state semifinals at Catonsville Community College. The Panthers move on to play C. Milton Wright for the championship at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at UMBC.
"It took us a little time to get into the flow of things but once we get the lead we're pretty confident," said Dirks, who had six goals and two assists. "These are the games you play for."
The Panthers' offense within eight meters begins with Dirks and Brooks and their pinpoint passing and proficient shooting often left the Lions slow to react. Dirks, as well as the rest of the Panthers, had a lot of success working off the left wing and while Wagner (three goals) had three fewer goals than Dirks, she did as much damage with six assists, many coming from behind the goal.
"Giving the assist, that's where I'm comfortable," said Wagner.
Said Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes: "Kelly and Brooke are playing their last two games and they wanted to be in the state finals. And they've put the weight on their shoulders and are carrying everyone else along with them."
The perils of Liberty's troubles came early on. The Lions (14-4) had seven turnovers and were outshot, 10-3, in the first 10 1/2 minutes. And Annapolis was awarded a 1-0 lead in the opening two minutes after Liberty goalkeeper Gina Cinquegrani (12 saves) lost the ball in the crease and watched it roll over the goal line.
The Panthers only got started from there, using a 6-0 run -- including three goals by Dirks -- midway through the first half to lead 10-5 at halftime. Dirks had four goals in the first half and Wagner two goals and three assists as Annapolis converted on 10 of 17 shots (58 percent).
"With this heat it was important to get out to a good lead so you could relax a little bit," Gehrdes said.
Annapolis' defense was the story of the second half. Freshman goalkeeper Heather Young (six saves) made three saves on three free positions as the Lions missed on their first five shots and were held to just two shots more over the final 17-plus minutes.
Meanwhile, the Panthers connected on their first three shots of the second half and had their largest lead, 13-5, when Kristy Dirks converted off a pass from Wagner.
"They're a tough team and I don't know if we could beat them on our best day," said Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn. "Anybody ** who got the ball for them we were worried about."
Pub Date: 5/17/98