In pre-game warm-ups, Corey Donohoe was the most lighthearted athlete on the lacrosse field, just as likely to poke fun at her teammates as stretch her legs.
Donohoe even joked with one of the officials during stick checks, prompting a playful pat on the head from a referee who had watched the recent North Harford graduate throughout her lacrosse career.
"I just wanted to stay calm. I didn't want to get too nervous for the game and be off my game," Donohoe said of her pre-game antics. "It's just fun and you have to take it as a fun game because you'll never get this opportunity again."
Donohoe shone the brightest of the all-stars yesterday, as The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year scored five goals and earned Most Valuable Player honors in leading the girls South team to a 14-11 win over the North in the first game of the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic at Loyola's Diane Geppi-Aikens Field.
"Having her on my team makes me a little bit more [relaxed] as a coach," said Mount Hebron's Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, the South coach who had faced Donohoe in the Class 3A-2A state final. "I'd take a zillion Coreys."
The event was started last year as a showcase of the best senior high school players about to make the leap to college lacrosse.
In addition to the All-America games, two earlier games featured the top non-senior lacrosse players in the Baltimore and Washington areas.
"It's a recruiting smorgasbord, if you will," said Lee Corrigan, whose company, Corrigan Sports Enterprises, runs the classic with Under Armour.
Forty-four boys and 44 girls from around the United States were chosen for the All-America games.
New York had the most representatives with 25, and Maryland had 24, but the rosters showed that lacrosse is growing throughout the nation.
"There's so many good kids that are out there throughout the whole country now," said Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly, whose boys South team was overwhelmed by the North, 20-10, in the second game of the afternoon.
"We've got New Jersey kids, some Pennsylvania kids, some Virginia kids. ... I've heard some kids say, 'We've got to beat New York,' or 'We're gonna take down Maryland,' but it's more than just Maryland and New York now."
Many players saw the game as a way to say goodbye to their high school careers and prepare for college competition.
"You know, hopefully, it'll translate," said Loyola graduate Tim Donovan, who is headed to Johns Hopkins. "I've got a big deal next year. ... It's definitely a good steppingstone, I think."
Donovan, who scored two goals, is one of many players Kelly believes can make the leap to college competition.
"It'll be an adjustment, but I think all these kids have a great opportunity to excel," said Kelly, who spent the past several days with players from both teams. "I think the ball is in their court and if they do the little things well, the sky's the limit for each and every one of them."
Twenty-four of last year's participants were represented on seven of the eight NCAA men's and women's Division I final four teams this year.