PressBox's high school lacrosse e-mail, written by Donald Cooke, brings you all the best in local lacrosse -- boys and girls, private and public schools, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Check it out, pass it on and tell us what you think.
Top National Powers To Faceoff In One Love Springfest And PNC Invitational
Some of the nation's premier high school lacrosse teams will collide during a couple of high-profile tournaments in the area during the next two weeks.
St. Paul's and Boys' Latin -- each ranked among the country's top 10 teams -- will be among the 14 squads that will play a total of seven games at the One Love Springfest tournament at St. Paul's' Tullai Field March 21.
Also featured will be New York girls' powerhouses Manhasset and Garden City, ranked No. 3 and No. 18, respectively, this week in the STEPS Lacrosse NA rankings, along with Notre Dame Prep (No. 12 nationally in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll) and St. Paul's School for Girls.
Funds raised from the tournament will benefit the One Love Foundation, which helps promote awareness of relationship violence.
On March 28, the second annual PNC Lacrosse Invitational will also bring some of the area's top teams to Loyola University's Ridley Athletic Complex.
St. Paul's will take on Georgetown Prep (No. 19 in Nike/Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll) during a pivotal boys' matchup at 6:30 p.m. McDonogh's boys' team will face Episcopal Academy (Pa.) at 8:30 p.m.
"For our guys to play in a first class venue like Ridley Complex is exciting," McDonogh head coach Andy Hilgartner said Feb. 26 at a press conference for the event. "We have played our opponent, Episcopal Academy, a number of times. We're just excited. It's just a great game."
The two-game event is sponsored by Corrigan Sports Enterprises and PNC Bank.
Five Former Baltimore-Area Prep Stars Suspended From UMBC Women's Lacrosse Team
The University of Maryland Baltimore County has suspended five players from its women's lacrosse team -- all of whom are former standouts from Baltimore-area high schools. Four of the five players were starters for the Retrievers.
Senior midfielder Alyssa Semones, a Penn State transfer who graduated from Westminster, started in six games this season and has three goals.
Junior midfielder Brittany Marquess played at Broadneck in Arnold, Md., while sophomore attacker Mackenzie Reese and redshirt sophomore defender Meghan Milani starred at John Carroll and Glenelg, respectively. Reese has six goals and one assist.
The fifth player is sophomore midfielder Amber Kovalick, who played at South River. She has appeared in one game this year and has one goal.
The university said that those five were suspended "for violation of team rules." However, media reports have alleged that they exchanged text messages in which they threatened physical harm against freshmen teammates.
"The athletic director and other university leaders are following all applicable policies and practices as we work to fully understand the situation and support our student athletes," Lisa Akchin, associate vice president of marketing and public relations, said in a statement March 16.
Q&A: Severn Girls' Lacrosse Coach Renie Sotiropoulos
Continuing with last week's interview with Rene Sotiropoulos, the head coach of perennial Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference power Severn, PressBox got the scoop on what should be a promising season for the Admirals, who return all but two starters in pursuit of the team's first IAAM title.
The Admirals finished 14-5 in 2014, falling to eventual six-time champion McDonogh, 13-12, in the conference semifinals. During the semifinal, Severn became the first team all season to lead McDonogh at halftime, and built a two-goal lead late before the contest slipped away.
Press Box: Who are some of the most promising players you are returning, and how do you think they will impact this year's team?
Renie Sotiropoulos: Caroline Steele [is] going to be somebody that every team keys on. Hayley Norris -- four-year starter -- she's a defender -- terrific midfielder. Regan Leavitt is coming back and has been a starter. She's an attacker and kind of runs the offense a bit.
I had four freshmen make the team last year, and three of them started. One of them was off the bench. And we'd be playing some of the top teams in the country with these freshmen. And they were wide-eyed, but they did great. So they're all going to be back as sophomores.
PB: What positions, and what areas of your team's overall game, present the greatest concern to you in terms of "holes to fill" and top priorities to work on? And how will you address those, and how do you foresee certain players filling key roles and positions on the field?
RS: None. Well, my starting goalkeeper graduated. But we have two. We have a sophomore and a freshman that have a great deal of promise. It's just going to be a matter of getting used to another person in the cage. Having a new goalkeeper is probably the biggest issue.
We're not a very big team in size. Some of the teams we play [have bigger players]. If I see an issue, it's that we're relatively petite. So we have to toughen up at practice. We have to make sure they understand that 'it's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog.'
Every year, the team is slightly different, so you just have to magnify the strengths -- which [are] our speed [and our transitions] -- and minimize weaknesses like size.
You have to be good at both [defense and offense]. I think we have a very active defense, a very aggressive defense. So I think defensively we'll be OK. I think, again, our speed is going to serve us well, [as will] our transitions and fast breaks.
PB: What teams do you see presenting the toughest tests this season, and what players and aspects of those teams will pose the biggest threats to which you'll have to find a solution?
RS: Any county game is always a big deal. It doesn't matter if they're 14-1 when we play them or 1-14. There's so much emotion -- and these girls all know each other -- that anything can happen. So those kinds of games are all big ones. And then, you know, our league games -- your Roland Parks, your [Notre Dame Preps], your McDonoghs, your Bryn Mawrs. I think Mount de Sales is very good. There are very few teams in this league that could not upset another team, or vice versa.
It's hard to stay mentally tough in a season where every game is a tough game. It's two -- sometimes three -- games a week, and they're full-time students. So they've got their homework, and they've got their prom and whatever. As a high school coach, every day is a surprise. So you have to be as flexible, but at the same time as demanding, as you possibly can with them.
PB: Which current players have committed to college programs? What Severn girls' players from last year have moved on to college teams this season? And what other former Severn girls' players from prior years have played in college?
RS: Hayley Norris is [committed to] High Point. Caroline Steele is [committed to] Maryland. Maddie McDaniel is a junior who's going to [James Madison]. Ayana Gordon's going to Virginia Commonwealth. Rachel Crawford's going to Tampa. Our sophomore goalkeeper is going to Drexel -- that's Zoe Bennett. I have one of my seniors actually going to play Division I field hockey instead of lacrosse -- that's Regan Leavitt.
Kelly Reese is at Virginia. Cami Whiteford is at Loyola. Rachel Steinberg is at Oregon. I've got a kid who's been an All-American for five years over at Denver -- Hannah Hook -- one of the best goalkeepers in the women's game. Alexa Kunowsky [is] at Vanderbilt. Allie Foard is at High Point. Beth Willertz is at Florida. They're all over.
Severn is a small school. We're very small. And we're co-ed. That makes us even smaller than a lot of the girls' schools we play up in Baltimore. This is a school that balances athletics and academics pretty well. These girls are in AP courses, and they're taking six classes, and then they come out and spend two hours with me, all the while trying to keep their grades up. It's a testimony to them and their parents more than to me. I just get them and run them around.
PB: What other thoughts do you have about the future of Severn girls' lacrosse moving forward?
RS: I have a lot of starters that are underclassmen. So when this group of exceptional seniors goes, we'll just start again with those guys.
Key Scores And Upcoming Games
Recent Boys' Results:
March 10: Gonzaga (D.C.) 13, Boys' Latin 6
March 12: Calvert Hall 11, Malvern (Pa.) 10 (overtime)
March 13: Haverford (Pa.) 18, St. Paul's 11
March 17: Landon 13, Paul VI (Va.) 7
March 17: St. Mary's 14, Malvern (Pa.) 11
March 17: Hill Academy (Ont.) 22, Mt. St. Joseph 12
Recent Girls' Results:
March 12: Archbishop Spalding 17, St. Mary's 6
March 12: Park School 9, Friends School 8
March 17: Bishop Ireton (Va.) 11, Georgetown Visitation (D.C.) 9
March 17: Severn 17, Notre Dame Prep 11
March 17: Roland Park 16, Archbishop Spalding 10
This Week's Top Boys' Matchups:
March 19: Hill Academy at Calvert Hall
March 24: Gonzaga vs. Culver Academy (Ind.)
March 24: Georgetown Prep at Gilman
March 24: Boys' Latin at Bullis
March 25: Culver Academy at St. Mary's
This Week's Top Girls' Matchups:
March 19: Mount de Sales at Severn
March 20: McDonogh at Milton (Ga.)
March 21: Roland Park at Bishop Ireton
March 21: Notre Dame Prep vs. Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) (One Love Springfest)
March 24: Marriotts Ridge at Glenelg
Featured College Commitments
Chesapeake attackman Pat Brennan -- UMBC
Severn attacker Caroline Steele -- University of Maryland
Severn midfielder Hunter Tyler -- Towson University
Annapolis attackman Scott Mitchell -- Stevenson University
Winters Mill goalie Caroline Wilcox -- Jacksonville University
Visit CountySportsZone.com for Maryland high school schedules, scores and standings.