‘Just so ex­cited to be ... mak­ing it of­fi­cial’

Bal­ti­more-area ath­letes ce­ment ties with col­leges as sign­ing pe­riod opens

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Kather­ine Dunn

As Notre Dame Prep se­nior Katie Rai­ley sat with 11 of her lacrosse team­mates pre­par­ing to sign their Na­tional Let­ters of In­tent on Wed­nes­day, she thought about many of them as lit­tle girls.

“A lot of th­ese girls play for my club team, and see­ing ev­ery­one grow up from when they were lit­tle to now, it re­ally seemed pos­si­ble that all of us could go and sign. It’s re­ally cool,” said Rai­ley, who signed with Vir­ginia.

Rai­ley and her Blaz­ers team­mates were among dozens of high school ath­letes from around the Bal­ti­more area who signed let­ters of in­tent to re­ceive col­lege ath­letic schol­ar­ships to Di­vi­sion I or Di­vi­sion II pro­grams on Na­tional Sign­ing Day, the first day of the early sign­ing pe­riod for lacrosse, basketball, base­ball, soft­ball and most other sports.

Around a crowded ta­ble in the NDP ath­letic cen­ter, Kee­gan Barger (Johns Hop­kins), Emily Cooper (Mar­quette), Grace Haus (Florida), Lucy Lowe (Penn State), Luisa Man­gione (Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth), Natalya Moody (Ge­orge Mason), Brooke Myrick (Gard­ner Webb), Paulina Perkovich (Iona), Halle Re­gan (Van­der­bilt) and Al­li­son Stofre­gen (Mon­mouth) also signed their let­ters of in­tent, along with eques­trian Lau­ren Rachuba (Texas A&M).

“It’s just so ex­cit­ing,” Re­gan said af­ter sign­ing. “I’ve worked so hard for this, and my fam­ily, my coaches, ev­ery­one I’ve been through school with sup­ported me and I’m just so ex­cited to fi­nally be sign­ing my let­ter, fi­nally mak­ing it of­fi­cial.”

The Blaz­ers’ lacrosse se­nior class in­cludes 16 play­ers, and as­sis­tant coach

Brian Hart­man, fill­ing in while coach Mac Ford was out of town, said all likely will play lacrosse in col­lege.

“This se­nior class is off the charts,” Hart­man said.

For Barger, one of two Blaz­ers who will stay close to home — the other is Navy com­mit Gil­lian Eby — it was hard to be­lieve sign­ing day had fi­nally ar­rived.

“It was kind of weird, tak­ing it in,” Barger said.

The Notre Dame Prep cer­e­mony hon­ored 23 se­niors bound for col­lege sports, in­clud­ing six plan­ning to play Di­vi­sion III lacrosse. Soccer play­ers Ash­ley Ga­bor (Penn) and Erica Car­pen­ter (Saint Fran­cis, Pa.) were also on hon­ored, al­though sign­ing day for soccer — and foot­ball — is in Fe­bru­ary. Pan­thers’ Davis waits a while: St. Frances for­ward Mia Davis, the area’s top se­nior girls basketball player, can’t wait to sign with Tem­ple, though she won’t do so un­til Wed­nes­day, the fi­nal day of the early sign­ing pe­riod.

“It ac­tu­ally feels great that it’s al­most here,” said Davis, who plans to be­come a doc­tor.

Davis com­mit­ted to the Owls last month over 20 other of­fers. An All-Metro for­ward and the area’s pre­mier re­bounder last sea­son, she av­er­aged 17.6 points and 14 re­bounds for the No. 1 Pan­thers, the In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of Mary­land A Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons. From Car­di­nals to Buck­eyes: At Calvert Hall’s cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, the steady stream of stand­out lacrosse play­ers sign­ing to play at Ohio State con­tin­ued with All-Metro first-team at­tack­man JT Bugliosi and mid­fielder Omari DeBerry ex­cited by the prospect of be­com­ing Buck­eyes.

The cur­rent Ohio State ros­ter has two Calvert Hall grad­u­ates — ju­nior Erik Evans and se­nior Johnny Kelly — with a lengthy list of past Car­di­nals al­ready through the pro­gram.

“I just had a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence when I went out for my visit and ob­vi­ously with the pipe­line out there, it was very com­fort­able,” said Bugliosi, who plans to study fi­nance.

The two pro­grams have a bond stem­ming from a char­ity col­lege lacrosse scrim­mage ev­ery fall fea­tur­ing Ohio State and Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly’s alma mater, North Carolina. All pro­ceeds ben­e­fit the Michael R. Breschi Schol­ar­ship Fund, which hon­ors the late son of North Carolina coach Joe Breschi, for­merly the coach at Ohio State. In 2004, when Joe Breschi was at Ohio State, Michael was 3 years old when he was killed af­ter be­ing hit by an SUV. Ducks in a row: It’s right around 2,830 miles from Severna Park to Eu­gene, Ore., but four lo­cal high school girls lacrosse se­niors be­gan that jour­ney when they put pen to pa­per and for­mally com­mit­ted to Ore­gon on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Severna Park’s Molly Carr and Claire Domshick, and Arch­bishop Spald­ing’s Lil­lian Stump and Al­li­son Mervine are among the lo­cal prep ath­letes to com­mit to col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties around the coun­try dur­ing the start of the early sign­ing pe­riod, which be­gan Wed­nes­day and lasts through next Wed­nes­day. They will join a team that fin­ished with a 9-8 record last sea­son, good for sixth place in the Moun­tain Pa­cific Sports Foun­da­tion. The pro­gram, head­ing into its 13th sea­son, is known for at­tract­ing Mary­land tal­ent out west.

“I want to go out there and ex­plore new things, and it is nice to go out there know­ing peo­ple and just hav­ing time play­ing a sport that you love,” Carr said.

The Ducks have sev­eral Anne Arun­del County play­ers on their cur­rent ros­ter, in­clud­ing Natalie Mod­ley (St. Mary’s), Rachel Stein­berg (Sev­ern) and Bella Pyne (South River), who helped make the lo­cal play­ers feel at home in Eu­gene.

“It re­ally helped to talk to the Mary­land girls and just get­ting con­fir­ma­tion that they loved it out there,” Domshick said. “At the same time, we stayed with a girl from Port­land, and she re­ally showed us around and gave us an idea of how beau­ti­ful it is out there, and how much there is to do.”

Carr and Domshick are two pieces of Kait­lyn Fuller’s solid se­nior class, which had five play­ers sign let­ters of in­tent Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing Katie DeFeo, who is head­ing to USC, one of Ore­gon’s main ri­vals.

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Notre Dame Prep se­niors, in­clud­ing Kee­gan Barger, front, and Lau­ren Rachuba, next to Barger, sign their Na­tional Let­ter of In­tent forms Wed­nes­day. Barger, a lacrosse player, signed with Johns Hop­kins and Rachuba, an eques­trian, with Texas A&M.

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