St. John’s Coach Danny Phillips didn’t know quite what to expect when he arrived for a January meeting with Dave Cottle at a steakhouse near the former University of Maryland men’s lacrosse coach’s home in Edgewater.
A few weeks earlier, Phillips had sent Cottle an e-mail on a whim asking for a few tips on leading a young team. Now the fifth-year coach had a chance to pick the brain of a man he’d long considered “one of the great minds in lacrosse.”
But as the meal began, any uneasiness about their unfamiliarity quickly faded and the conversation flowed. After more than 30 years of coaching, Cottle had plenty to say. Phillips was eager to listen.
They started with the basics and continued for hours.
“Once we pushed the plates aside, it was all lacrosse,” Phillips said. “We were drawing things on napkins and just going from there.”
Heading into a season in which the Cadets’ starting offense would be dominated by sophomores, Phillips felt compelled to reach out for help in shaping a young and talented bunch as quick as possible. Cottle, who stepped down at Maryland last May after nine seasons, proved a willing tutor. He met with Phillips for three sessions totaling about nine hours to break down offense, defense and strategies for managing a team.
Phillips, who has sent his squad to Cottle’s team camp in the past, credits the veteran coach with helping his staff become more organized. The changes that resulted from the sessions haven’t been glaring, but Phillips said the small adjustments, such as timing drilling periods on a scoreboard to keep practices flowing, have made a difference.
“Lacrosse is a little bit like golf,” said Cottle, who also was able to offer specific feedback after watching tape of a fall scrimmage. “Off that first tee you can slice it, hook it or hit it straight, but there’s a lot of ways to end up where you want to be. I just tried to tell him some things that have worked for us over the years, and hopefully, some of that helped him.”
Buoyed by four straight wins, the Cadets (8-3, 3-2 WCAC) appear headed for a fifth consecutive winning season led by sophomore attackman Taylor Valencia (44 points) and junior goalie Justin Rosenberg, a Vermont commit. But several lopsided results in conference play show St. John’s has some growing to do before it’s ready to compete with the WCAC’s elite.
Cottle, who is currently working as an assistant for the Annapolis Hawks eighth-grade club team in addition to his duties as president of Major League Lacrosse’s Chesapeake Bayhawks, was happy to help that process.
“Some of the stuff he was telling us at times was way over our heads,” Phillips said with a laugh, “but he’s a really good guy, and it’s great to tap into some of his experience to help us.”. . .
Midway through Tuesday’s low-scoring contest at Westfield, Stone Bridge sophomore Dylan Maltz asked Bulldogs Coach Scott Mitchell not to call a timeout if they found themselves on a fast break late in the game.
With his team struggling to hold onto a 7-6 lead in the final minute, Maltz sprinted past three defenders to reach the attacking zone and trigger a fast break. Mitchell heeded his budding star’s wishes and Maltz rewarded him by burying a 20-yard bullet into the back of the net to seal a key 8-6 win.
The play, and Maltz’s decision to take charge in crunch time, epitomized the development of a player learning to thrive in his new role. Last season, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound attackman piled up 54 goals and 34 assists playing in tandem with older brother Derek (73 goals, 39 assists). With his older brother now playing at top-ranked Syracuse, Dylan — who sets up camp around the crease despite taking a beating every game — is accepting a heavier offensive load for a young Bulldogs’ team starting to hit its stride.
“I just try to be relentless,” Maltz said. “Playing with Derek really helped me out last year — when I faced pressure, he would just take the ball and take over. Now I’m trying to fill that role, just to take over and dominate.”
Following a 2-3 start to the season, the Bulldogs (7-3) have won five straight.
Broadneck was not just one game away from the 4A/3A state semifinals last year — the Bruins were one goal away.
“They probably want to seek some sort of revenge for last year,” Broadneck Coach Karen Tengwall said. “Yeah, I think they have a little fire in their bellies because of that.”
Broadneck is off to a strong start after last year’s heartbreaking end. The Bruins are led by seniors Alli Dawson (an Ohio recruit), Paige Duncan (Towson), Julia Burns (High Point) and Lexi Bristow (UMBC) and their lone loss came against perennial power Severna Park on April 7.
Burns, the team’s goalie, is looking for a little personal redemption for last year’s playoff loss.
“Our team did really well,” Burns said. “As far as my personal performance, I wasn’t proud, but you know, what are you going to do? You just kind of have to move forward.”
Burns was far from the only goalie Griffin victimized last year. She finished with 102 goals and 47 assists in 19 games, including 29 goals in five playoff games to lead the Seahawks to their first statge title.
Griffin plays for the University of Maryland now, but the Seahawks have had little drop-off without her so far. Their only loss also came against Severna Park, in the season opener, and they’ve reeled off six straight wins since then.
Burns and the Bruins are bracing another battle.
“You can never underestimate them,” Burns said. “They’re one of the top teams in the county.”. . .
A year after posting a 6-7 record and bowing out in the first round of the AAA Patriot District tournament, Lake Braddock finds itself atop the league standings midway through its regular season schedule.
Freshman Allie Snow has a team-high 23 goals while sophomore Taylor Livick (12) and freshman Kristen Gaudian (11) round out the top scoring trio for the Bruins whose roster features just four seniors and nine freshmen and sophomores. Lake Braddock’s lone blemish is an 11-10 overtime defeat to Robinson on a record that includes a two-goal victory at Hayfield to open the season and a 7-6 win over West Springfield.
Despite their 4-0 mark in the district, the Bruins (5-1) still have matchups with Annandale (6-4, 3-0) and defending Virginia state finalists W.T. Woodson (1-3, 1-2) on the slate as they hope their young squad can translate its hot start into postseason success.