St. Frances lacrosse team expected woes, found win during inaugural season

The Baltimore Sun

When Artie Spruill decided to coach the first St. Frances girls lacrosse team this spring, she knew she and her players were in for a challenge.

After all, none of the girls who came out for the club team had ever even held a stick in her hand and the Panthers don't have transportation to a practice field. But that didn't discourage any of them.

Spruill, who played at Loch Raven and Towson University, planned her own independent schedule, one she thought included a few teams the Panthers could be competitive with.

The Panthers have struggled, but they also posted their first victory, 6-1, over Randallstown.

"They were so excited," Spruill said. "For them, it was a huge accomplishment. Just going back to the school where they were used to winning basketball games and to be able to say, 'We won our first lacrosse game in our first season' was so great for them."

Spruill, whose Panthers (1-3) are mostly juniors, cited midfielders Janee Hill, Shakiara Coleman and Breiona Bouknight as well as goalie Melissa Jones as key players.

Because lacrosse concepts are similar to basketball concepts, Spruill would like to get more girls from the Panthers' No. 1 basketball team.

St. Paul's -- Coming into the season, the St. Paul's boys lacrosse team wasn't expecting to start 2-5. At the same time, it wasn't expecting to be playing without team leader Cliff Larkin for the first six games. The Princeton-bound senior attackman and two-year captain returned from a shoulder injury in the Crusaders game against No. 3 Loyola on Friday. St. Paul's fell to the Dons, 6-5, but an effective Larkin got a goal and an assist in just more than a half of work. "We thought we'd just play him on extra man, but my [other] piece of thinking would be to see how he would respond to that shoulder and would it limit his contact," St. Paul's coach Rick Brocato said. "He showed no signs of any of that, so he played most of the second half and did a remarkable job."

McDonogh -- Mike McMillian, a former football and baseball coach at McDonogh, died last week. He was honored at a memorial service Saturday attended by more than 400 people. McMillian coached baseball for the Eagles from 1973 to 1986 and compiled a 165-35 record, and coached football from 1979 to 1991, compiling a 80-47 record. "He was engaging, he was funny and he was always thinking 10 steps ahead, which most people didn't see at the time," said former player Casey Clark.

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