There is little that can surprise Calvert's Ashlyn Meerholz at this stage in her career. From one game to the next, the senior attack knows she will face constant double teams and schemes designed specifically to stop her. The only thing is, none of that has made much of a difference.
"I just think she knows that when she gets the ball she can do whatever she wants to do, when she wants to do it," Calvert Coach Bonnie Harrison said. "When she wants to go to the goal, she can get there, and more times than not, she's going to score."
Ashlyn Meerholz has a team-high 27 goals for 5-0 Calvert. "I just think she knows that when she gets the ball she can do whatever she wants to do, when she wants to do it," Cavaliers Coach Bonnie Harrison said.
(Michael Temchine For The Washington Post)
Through the first five games this season, Meerholz scored a team-high 27 times. That puts her on pace to easily eclipse last season's mark of 58 goals. Meerholz's scoring spree comes at the perfect time for the Cavaliers, who are 5-0 despite starting the season with only 14 varsity players because of graduation, injuries and the opening of Huntingtown High, which drew players from Calvert.
Winners of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference in three of the last four years and fresh from the school's first state tournament appearance last season, Calvert has shown little drop-off thus far. Much of the credit goes to the players up front, especially Meerholz and junior Samantha Harrison (19 goals).
The Salisbury State-bound Meerholz spent the offseason playing for Chesapeake Club Lacrosse, a Maryland-based travel team. For the first time in her career, she regularly faced college-level competition. Meerholz not only garnered recognition from college recruiters during the experience, but also entered the high school season playing at a faster pace than before.
"That was a level I had never really seen before," Meerholz said. "It was definitely challenging, because you had to earn your spot on the field. I was kind of surprised. I thought I'd be one of the low-level girls, but just being able to play with them makes it a lot easier on yourself."
Hornets Start Over
It took one day of tryouts for Great Mills Coach John Richardson to realize that he'd have to start from scratch with this year's team. The first-year coach saw a relatively inexperienced squad that lacked fluidity and spontaneity when it wasn't given specific plays to run.
"The coaching staff sat down and we all said, 'We have to break this team down to the very basics,' " Richardson said.
Be it through Monday chalkboard sessions or practicing basic movement away from the ball, the Hornets (1-5) have focused on the fundamentals of the sport and thinking on their feet, rather than following a rigid model of set plays.
The Hornets' work finally came to fruition at a tournament April 16 at Chopticon, where they defeated St. Mary's Ryken. They also fell 5-1 to Leonardtown, a team that handed them a 17-3 defeat in their first meeting this season.
Richardson's plans for the program are ambitious. As long as the area's youth programs continue to funnel in a steady stream of polished players, he said, the Hornets have the means to contend in the immediate future.
"What we're striving for right now is to have a team that's extremely competitive within the SMAC," Richardson said. "We're trying to put the right things in place for that to happen. When I say highly competitive, I'm looking two years down the line. We have some girls in the [junior varsity] program that are going to put the fear of God [into opponents] out there."