Success is non-stop trip for Buss

June 04, 2007|by MARK KELLER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Gwen Buss knows what it takes to be successful in an individual sport.

She's been a swimmer since she was 7 years old - one good enough to earn a spot on the swim team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington this winter.

But in her four years at Mercersburg Academy, Buss discovered that the same effort and drive to excel in an individual sport could also make her a key piece in a team puzzle.

For Buss - and Mercersburg's girls lacrosse team - all the pieces to that puzzle came together in 2007. The Blue Storm had a breakout season, finishing 12-3 and earning some respect in the tough Mid-Atlantic Prep League. And Buss was the breakout performer.


Buss set a school record for goals in a single season and led her team in assists while ranking second on the team in ground balls - a rare triple for an attacker.

The combination was enough for Buss to earn The Herald-Mail's Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year honors.

"I don't know if she really has a weakness," Mercersburg coach Susan Hutchins said. "She sees the field very well, is our leading scorer, led us in assists and was (second) in ground balls. And for an attacker, you don't expect to see her picking up that many ground balls.

"She was just everywhere."

Buss and Hutchins both attribute that success on game day to Buss' willingness and desire to put in the extra work and effort after practice.

"I didn't get much playing time until last year," Buss said. "So there was a lot of staying after practice and working on shots, wall ball and working on my stick skills, because that always needs work. Those things really helped me the most."

"She's the one who stays after practice and shoots on goal," Hutchins said.

"You don't have to tell her ... she'll go through drills doing it all left-handed because she knows it's something she needs to work on. She's that kind of player."

Buss scored 58 goals in 2007, breaking the previous school mark of 52. She also led the Blue Storm with 29 assists and 36 draw controls (gaining control of the ball on a faceoff).

"I think using everybody, bringing everybody into the game is most important," Buss said. "If you have just one person doing everything, you're not as strong as when everybody contributes."

She also had 57 ground balls (pickups of a loose ball), a stat in which midfielders or defenders often lead.

Buss said the decision to pursue swimming in college instead of lacrosse was a tough one, but in the end, the sport she's excelled in for 10-plus years won out over the one she's played for just four.

"I've always had a love for swimming and everyone says you get better in college," Buss said. "But we'll see what happens. If that's not what I want to do, I'm definitely going to try lacrosse."

Joining Buss on The Herald-Mail All-Area Girls Lacrosse Team:

Leila Chouai, St. James: The senior midfielder had 18 goals and 12 assists for the Saints.

Addie Crawford, Mercersburg Academy: The senior defender was third on the team with 54 ground balls and had 12 interceptions.

Jenn Dillon, Mercersburg Academy: The sophomore midfielder had 26 goals and 13 assists, controlled 30 draws and had 51 ground balls.

Susan Gore, South Hagerstown: A four-year letter winner, the senior midfielder improved her goals total each season, scoring 29 this year.

Carly Jones, Smithsburg: The senior attacker led the Leopards in goals (25), assists (26) and ground balls (45).

Meg Hann, Smithsburg: The senior defender had a goal, three assists and 27 ground balls.

Mary Lancaster, Mercersburg Academy: The junior midfielder had 70 ground balls and seven interceptions to go with seven goals and 13 assists.

Allison Mariott, St. James: The senior goalkeeper stopped 67 percent of shots against her and had a goals against average of 5.12.

Meg McSherry, Smithsburg: The sophomore defender had two goals and an assist and was second on the Leopards with 37 ground balls.

Jenelle Paolini, Mercersburg Academy: The senior attacker was second to Buss on the Blue Storm in goals (29), assists (25) and ground balls (55).

Caroline Salisbury, St. James: The sophomore attacker led the area with 77 goals and added 16 assists for the Saints.

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