Two fathers of former South River players man the press box at Seahawks home boys’ lacrosse games: John Mattingly on the P.A. system, Norm Gregory spotting goal scorers and tracking stats. They’ve been at this 16 years now, seen players who were freshmen when their sons were seniors come and go, and seen those freshmen’s much-younger brothers graduate, too.
But even the unofficial historians of South River lacrosse weren’t sure what they’d see from the Seahawks this season, with the absence of 15 graduated seniors and half of last year’s starting lineup.
“I don’t know,” Mattingly admitted before Wednesday’s game. “They’ve got a lot of new guys out there.”
But after two minutes of play and two quick goals, Mattingly and Gregory and the rest of the South River faithful could see a new year’s worth of players rising to meet standards set by winning Seahawks teams of previous years. South River dominated Anne Arundel County rival Broadneck from the opening faceoff, jumping out to a four-goal halftime lead on its way to a 9-2 statement win.
“They’re growing up; we still have a long ways to go. I like the direction we’re going right now,” said Seahawks Coach Paul Noone, unwilling to conclude from two games’ worth of data (the Seahawks shut out Northern, 13-0, in the opener) that his team was ready to maintain last year’s 17-3 form. “We’ll see later on down the road.”
Twenty-six seconds into Wednesday’s game, junior Dylan Mansur did his job and buried a shot in front of the net.
“He’s playing where Ben used to play,” Mattingly commented to Gregory, peering at the roster. Mansur wasn’t a scorer in last year’s loaded lineup, instead feeding Maryland commit Ben Chisholm for goal after goal. This season, he’s poised to shoulder more of the scoring load.
“That’s just what I fell into,” said Mansur, whose hesitation moves and head-fakes confounded Broadneck (1-1). “It’s the same system, a pretty reliable system. The players change, but the goal stays the same.”
The next goal came from junior Grant Maloof, who slid into the lefty role vacated by 2013 senior C.J. Pendleton.
“It was big when he left,” Maloof said. “He was our left-hander so we needed one to step up.”
By the time the lead reached six, Gregory knew who those strong lefty shots were coming from, and who was turning stop-and-go moves into goals. Mansur scored four goals and Maloof two, sparking an offensive effort backed by a defense that’s also reloaded, allowing two goals in two games this season, and a strong effort at the X from new faceoff man, junior Andrew Thomas.
“Once they left, we definitely knew we could fill in,” Maloof said. “Expectations are high.”