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The Kent Island area in Maryland is renowned for its access to the Chesapeake Bay, its role as a trading outpost in American colonial history, and its plethora of marinas and outlet shopping.

Three members of Towson’s men’s lacrosse team are doing what they can to further strengthen the region’s budding reputation as a source for Division I recruits.

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Zach Goodrich, Johnny Giuffreda and Luke Fromert all hail from Stevensville, graduated from Kent Island, and are playing for the No. 20 Tigers (3-3), who will welcome No. 3 Duke (6-1) to Johnny Unitas Stadium on Saturday at noon.

The trio is not the first group of players from Kent Island to reach the Division I level, but they seem to understand how their paths are inspiring younger players back home with dreams of playing lacrosse.

“I think them seeing us playing here makes it seem like they have an opportunity, too, that it’s not just a small public school,” said Goodrich, a junior short-stick defensive midfielder. “Everyone has a chance to play at the next level.”

Goodrich, Giuffreda and Fromert credited several Kent Island alumni for opening the door for future generations. Long-stick midfielder Ben Goodrich (Zach’s older brother), faceoff specialist Brady Dove and midfielder Colin Flounlacker played for Navy, and midfielder Jake Hager played one season at Towson.

Giuffreda, a redshirt junior attackman who transferred from Loyola Maryland after the 2016 season, said that group influenced many younger players, including himself.

“Being on the varsity team with guys like Ben and Colin and Brady, they gave me pointers on what to do because they were already committed to Navy,” he said. “So looking up to them, I wanted to follow those guys.”

Current Kent Island graduates playing lacrosse include Navy senior short-stick defensive midfielder D.J. Plumer and Mercer’s midfield brother duo of senior Matt Quinn and sophomore Michael.

While Goodrich — a second-team All American last spring — might be the most celebrated member of the Kent Island alumni, Kent Island boasts a strong and growing youth recreational lacrosse program that draws players from Stevensville, Grasonville and Chester and feeds into the high school, Buccaneers coach Robert Woolley said.

“Kent Island has always had a healthy rec program,” said Woolley, who guided the high school to Class 3A-2A state championships in 2014 and 2015. “A lot of these guys seek great playing opportunities when it comes to clubs. So they’re pretty rich in the blood in the way of lacrosse. So when we get to forming the varsity team, there’s a lot of guys with a lot of experience. So it’s not a huge surprise that they end up taking the next step and playing in Division I, II and III. But once upon a time, five years ago or so, I probably would have answered that question a little differently.”

Lacrosse has become so popular in the Kent Island area that Goodrich thinks it has overtaken football, basketball and baseball as the sport of choice.

Being a defensive short-stick midfielder isn't glamorous, but all lacrosse teams need them.

“Like our football coaches used to say, ‘It’s lacrosse players playing football,’ not ‘Football players playing lacrosse,’ ” he said. “That’s kind of how it is.”

Still, the transition from Kent Island to Division I can be bewildering. Giuffreda recalled throwing up during a run test on his first day on Loyola’s campus and banning soda from his diet to keep pace with his teammates.

Asked if the difficulty of making that leap caused him to have second thoughts about pursuing lacrosse, Giuffreda said: “Not for me. I definitely knew 100 percent that this is what I wanted to do. I’ve never not played a sport while I was going to school. So I thought it would just be weird not doing what I know I can do.”

Giuffreda and Fromert, a redshirt freshman attackman who transferred from Mercer, had a variety of reasons for joining the Tigers, including proximity to family and lower tuition rates. But the presence of Goodrich and Giuffreda weighed heavily for Fromert.

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“It played a pretty huge role because it’s not easy just going to a team when you’re transferring,” he said. “So it meant a lot that I knew some guys that are already here.”

Goodrich, who shares a house with Giuffreda, junior faceoff specialist Alex Woodall (St. Mary’s) and student manager Connor Lavelle, said he relishes playing with his two childhood friends, who have known each other for about a decade.

“It definitely makes it more comfortable being on the team and having kids that you’ve known for our whole life, just knowing that you have them if you need something,” Goodrich said.

Towson coach Shawn Nadelen has centered his recruiting efforts on identifying strong high school programs that will yield talented players, which explains his success with area teams such as Hereford and Westminster. Nadelen said what he most appreciates about the Kent Island players is their work ethic.

“They’re just good, hard-working, blue-collar kids,” he said. “They know what it means to compete, and they know what it means to play for a team and have a role. The ones that I’ve been around aren’t what you would call boisterous at all. They’re meat-and-potatoes kind of kids.”

The Tigers will welcome another Kent Island graduate next season when attackman Sean Mooney enrolls. Senior midfielder Brandon Galloway will join UMBC in the fall, and junior midfielder Ricky Tubman has committed to Salisbury.

Woolley, the Kent Island coach, said Goodrich, Giuffreda, Fromert and others have propped open the door for future prospects to nurture their ambition of playing Division I lacrosse.

“If you think of Kent Island itself, it’s a small place. They definitely have broken the mold and set a higher standard mentally for these guys to believe in themselves to do what they’re doing now,” he said. “I think it gives them the mental wherewithal to say, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.’ ”

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