Hop­ing to take strides

St. Charles girls lax ea­ger to push pro­gram fur­ther

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

In the weeks lead­ing up to its sea­son opener against West­lake, the St. Charles High School girls lacrosse team had to learn how to nav­i­gate through the el­e­ments in their last two home scrim­mages against West­lake and Gwynn Park High School from Prince Ge­orge’s County as blus­tery, snowy con­di­tions greeted the Spar­tans and their op­po­nents last Mon­day.

Two years ago in their in­au­gu­ral cam­paign, the Spar­tans girls won just two games, but last year they more than dou­bled that sum to five. This spring, St. Charles third-year coach Mark Stan­ley is cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that the squad can add to that to­tal, while se­nior mid­fielder Tam­rin Swann, a Delaware State Univer­sity re­cruit, is ea­ger to see the team ex­cel.

“We won more games last year than we did our first sea­son, so re­al­is­ti­cally I would just like to keep adding more wins and end up with a win­ning sea­son,” said Stan­ley, who also coaches the South­ern Mary­land Rev­o­lu­tion girls lacrosse team, which at­tracts play­ers from Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s coun­ties. “We still have a long ways to go to catch up with North­ern and Hunt­ing­town and La Plata, but I’m al­ways look­ing for­ward to those games.”

Swann, who spent her fresh­man year at Thomas Stone, is the Spar­tans’ first fe­male ath­lete to gar­ner a Divi­sion I schol­ar­ship for any sport. She rep­re­sents a solid corps of re­turn­ing se­nior starters that also in­cludes at­tacker Alexia DeHe­tre, goalie Gabrielle Cleve­land and mid­fielder Ari­anna Heb­ner, the squad’s lead­ing scorer in 2016 when she tal­lied more that 50 goals en route to be­ing named the Spar­tans’ Most Valu­able Player.

“This is my last chance to play to­gether with these

se­niors and we’re all look­ing for­ward to see­ing how many games we can win this year,” Swann said. “We’ve grown to­gether as a team and be­come like a fam­ily dur­ing my three years here since com­ing from Thomas Stone. It would be great if we could be­come the best team in Charles County and play in the SMAC cham­pi­onship game.”

While Stan­ley did not quite share Swann’s longterm op­ti­mism, cit­ing La Plata as the team to beat in the Po­tomac Divi­sion, he did commend Swann, Heb­ner, DeHe­tre, Cleve­land and sopho­more de­fender Ash­ley Kress, an All-SMAC first-team choice last spring, for their hard work and steady im­prove­ment. Stan­ley does be­lieve their con­tin­ued chem­istry should equate to more suc­cess dur­ing the sea­son.

“Tam­rin is the first girls player at St. Charles to go to a Divi­sion I school and I think only the sec­ond player from the school ever,” Stan­ley said, re­fer­ring to 2016 grad­u­ate Wil­liam Kwenkeu, now at Tem­ple Univer­sity on a football schol­ar­ship. “She does a lot of things re­ally well for us. Ari­anna had a great year last sea­son and I think she was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed not to make All-SMAC, but the other two girls ahead of her de­served it. But that def­i­nitely served as mo­ti­va­tion.”

While Alexia DeHe­tre will be in her fi­nal sea­son with the squad, her younger sis­ter, fresh­man Kayla DeHe­tre, could be among the team’s bud­ding stars, along with sopho­mores Kress and Rachel Hen­dricks. Kress earned her spot on the Al­lSMAC team last spring as a fresh­man thanks to her de­fen­sive in­ten­sity and she pro­vides am­ple sup­port for Cleve­land.

“I know in any game that I can put Ash­ley on the other team’s best of­fen­sive player and she’s go­ing to shut her down,” Stan­ley said. “In a sport where of­fenses can dom­i­nate, she does a great job on de­fense. Kayla re­ally wanted to play for us this spring. She re­quested jersey No. 10, which is the jersey num­ber that Kait­lyn Har­ley wore last sea­son as a se­nior.”

St. Charles is sched­uled to open the sea­son at home at 5 p.m. to­day against West­lake and then travel to McDonough on Fri­day be­fore con­clud­ing the month with an away game at Calvert (March 28) then a home clash against Hunt­ing­town (March 30).

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

St. Charles High School girls lacrosse de­fend­ers await the draw on March 13 in a scrim­mage against vis­it­ing Gwynn Park of Prince Ge­orge’s County. St. Charles had less trou­ble with the Yel­low Jack­ets than they did nav­i­gat­ing through the snowy, blus­tery con­di­tions on their home field.

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