Hur­ri­canes Gath­er­ing Strength

The Washington Post Sunday - - High Schools - By Ryan Mink

A ner­vous 6-foot-5 at­tack­man, Michael Belt, ar­rived at Hunt­ing­town High the day af­ter the boys’ lacrosse team held its first prac­tice. A con­fi­dent head coach, Rodger Gan­ley, had taken the job just 11 days prior.

“I knew we were go­ing to take a few steps back be­fore we took some for­ward,” Gan­ley said.

Hunt­ing­town (5-3) took a large step for­ward yes­ter­day, win­ning the four-team Casalino Cup at Calver­ton with a 12-6 vic­tory over Jef­fer­son in the fi­nal af­ter a 12-7 win over Calver­ton in its open­ing game. It’s the first time the third-year school has won the seven-year-old tour­na­ment.

When Belt ar­rived at Hunt­ing­town, he said he was ner­vous about how he would fit in. But he said it didn’t take long for his team­mates warm up to him.

He scored 16 goals in the team’s first five games and added five in each game of yes­ter­day’s tour­na­ment.

“It only took a week,” he said. “Once I started scor­ing, ev­ery­body was real nice.”

Belt trans­ferred from Ch­e­sa­peake, where he led the team with 45 goals last sea­son. He causes mas­sive matchup prob­lems and sev­eral times shot over­top of the goalie yes­ter­day.

“You can’t teach that size,” Gan­ley said. “When you’ve got a guy with that size and the abil­ity, you play him right away.”

Even with the ad­di­tional strain of wel- com­ing in a new star player, Hunt­ing­town had to adapt to Gan­ley’s new schemes. Hunt­ing­town went 9-5 last sea­son af­ter go­ing 5-9 the year be­fore, giv­ing the play­ers hope that they could im­prove on that this year. It did not look good early on — the Hur­ri­canes lost their first three games.

“It was re­ally dev­as­tat­ing, be­ing a month away from the sea­son and not hav­ing a coach,” se­nior Dave Wiese said. “But Rodger stepped up and now we’re start­ing to get into things.”

The Hur­ri­canes now have won five straight. They opened the fi­nal with six straight goals and kept the ball away from Jef­fer­son (4-6) for all but two min­utes of the first quar­ter. Belt scored three of their first seven goals, all unas­sisted, and was named the tour­na­ment’s most out­stand­ing player.

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