Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cougars get close, but never reach the summit

E-mail this article \ Print this article

Good enough to play with anybody, but not quite good enough to beat them — that was the theme of the Quince Orchard boys lacrosse season.

The Cougars (8-7 record) were explosive enough to score with the county’s best, as evidenced by two 20-goal outbursts in mid-April. They were dangerous enough to play the premier teams close, as evidenced by two-goal losses to 13-2 teams, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Gaithersburg, a loss to 10-win Walter Johnson in a game that was tied with just four minutes remaining, and even a 15-6 victory over a 10-win Damascus squad.

More often than not, though, they came up just short. Their final loss was almost a season in a nutshell, a 16-15 defeat in the 4A-3A North Region quarterfinals over the weekend to Carroll County’s North Carroll, a game which they led at one point by eight goals.

‘‘It was hard, brutal,” said Quince Orchard head coach Mike Kowalick. ‘‘We just came in and hit the [expletive] out of them all game long. They’re a great team and everybody played phenomenal for us. We just kind of ran out of gas.”

Kowalick felt his team was ready to make a jump up the standings prior to the season, after winning seven games in 2007 and returning most of their core. It looked like he was right midway through the season, after consecutive wins over Watkins Mill, Damascus, Northwest, Seneca Valley and Sherwood.

Most of the success Quince Orchard attained this year was directly attributed to their offense. It had weapons all over the place, especially on the attack line. Seniors Ryan Foringer, Greg Rutland and Matt Mele were the driving forces. Senior Alex Manners had his moments, such as the three goals he scored to open the playoff game against North Carroll. Freshman Eric Simon, though slight in stature, was often sensational as a first-year attackman.

But the Cougars, who lose nine seniors, were low on depth. Kowalick felt this was a big reason his team couldn’t quite get over the hump in 2008.

‘‘That was one thing that was always going to kill us,” he said. ‘‘That was definitely the end all for us [against North Carroll].”