The Fallston boys lacrosse team has dealt with many changes since making it to the Class 3A state title game last spring, but the Cougars are still doing just fine.
Coach Matt Parks left to take a job as an assistant coach at Washington College, and Ryan Arist became the new Fallston coach. The Cougars lost their starting midfield and defense and have a team loaded with underclassmen this season, but they've still got much of their high-powered offense, a big reason for this season's 4-1 start.
No. 13 Fallston went 17-2 last year, scoring goals in bunches. That's why the transition from Parks to Arist has been an easy one. Arist, who guided Joppatowne to consecutive Class 1A North regional final appearances in 2006 and 2007, runs essentially the same system that Parks did, one that lets the Cougars run and shoot a lot.
"I think we just look for opportunities," Arist said. "It's just a disciplined offense, with a lot of different sets. There's higher expectations across the board."
Fallston is averaging nearly 13 goals per game during its first five contests. Freshman Andy Thrasher has been a bit of a surprise, as he emerged as an offensive threat with 16 goals and four assists. Seniors Luke Raab (13 goals, eight assists) and Pat Mull (four goals, 24 assists), sophomore Mike Antonozzi (13 goals, four assists) and junior face-off guy Ryan Strasdauskas (nine goals, three assists) have carried the offense.
The defense has also played well. The Cougars have senior goalie Brad Motley back, the only key player returning on defense, which has given up only about six goals per game.
Arist had turned a winless Joppatowne team into a strong Class 1A force in just two years - the Mariners went 15-2 last season - by emphasizing learning the game and playing as a team. Arist was the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant there for eight years before coaching the varsity for two seasons.
Arist still teaches at Joppatowne and coached wrestling at Patterson Mill this winter, but he said taking over at Fallston was something he couldn't resist.
"I knew that I would be going into a high-pressure situation with high expectations and, as a coach, that's the challenge I wanted," Arist said. "This was a new level for me, and an experience I wanted to take as a personal challenge."
He'll still be doing some teaching, because 24 of Fallston's 32 players are underclassmen. But the Cougars and Arist all are adjusting well, and that's bad news for the rest of Harford County.
C. Milton Wright softball -- The team's statistics show one sure fact - the Mustangs win when they hit well. The Mustangs started off 3-2 and scored 25 runs in the three victories, averaging 8.3 runs in those games. But they got only eight runs in the two losses, averaging four runs per game. Angelica Appold and Berardi were the top two hitters in the early games. Appold was batting .462 (6-for-13) with five runs scored plus a team-high five walks. Berardi was hitting .375 (6-for-16) with a team-high six RBIs. Appold also had a 1-0 record pitching.
Track and field -- Sara Bailey of C.M. Wright and Erika Stasakova from John Carroll both scored victories at the recent Loyola Invitational meet. Bailey won the 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, 22 seconds, beating Dulaney's Chelsey Bush by eight seconds. Bailey helped lead the Mustangs to the Class 4A state title in cross country last fall. Stasakova scored an impressive win in the 3,200. She finished in 11:22, beating Rachel Nerenberg from Maryvale by 37 seconds. Stasakova is headed to Lafayette next year. C.M. Wright finished seventh overall, and John Carroll ended up 11th.
John Carroll wrestling -- Keith Lipinski will be going to Western New England College in the fall. Lipinski finished in the school's top 10 for career victories (88) despite missing part of his senior season with a shoulder injury. He'll be pursuing an engineering degree.