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Storm rolls in Hutchins' debut

June 04, 2007|by MARK KELLER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The Mercersburg Academy girls lacrosse team put a little more "Mid" in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League in 2007.

The Blue Storm didn't win the conference title, but they did knock off defending champion Hill School and made statements to the other schools that Mercersburg, the southern-most school in the MAPL, is a program to be reckoned with.

"Beating Hill School, that was awesome. It was like David and Goliath," first-year Mercersburg head coach Susan Hutchins said. "We played a great game against Lawrenceville, too. And even though we lost, we showed we can hang with those New Jersey and Philly teams and that gave us a lot of confidence."

Hutchins led the Blue Storm to a 12-3 record, including a 10-0 mark in nonconference matches, earning her The Herald-Mail Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year honor.

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Hutchins was an assistant coach at Mercersburg for two years before taking the head position this season. Looking ahead at the season, she noticed two aspects of her team that led her to believe 2007 could be a special year for the Blue Storm.

"The athleticism of this team they're very good, raw athletes. And on the lacrosse field, that's a big advantage," Hutchins said. "And they have a very competitive spirit. They don't take kindly to losing. And that's always a good thing."

Hutchins said it wasn't difficult making the transition from assistant coach to head coach. She said she stuck with the same gameplan she used with other teams she has coached.

"We're going to run, we're going to master the fundamentals," Hutchins said. "We're going to be the team that makes good passes, controls the ball and shoots a lot. If we can master the fundamentals first, the other things fall in line."

Those "other things" include being competitive in a league against teams from more traditional lacrosse areas.

And not only being competitive, but - as in the game against Hill School - pulling off an upset that few saw coming, too.

"That gave us a big boost of confidence, for this year and next year," said senior attacker Gwen Buss. "That proved to us that we can compete in the MAPL and it will definitely help them next year."

Hutchins views that game as not only the turning point of the 2007 season, but perhaps a turning point for an entire program.

"It's a building block for next year. It's a game we can look at and say, 'This is a big win,'" Hutchins said. "And it shows those other schools in the league that we are in the same league now. It's competitive, and I think that helps our credibility. And I think from here, we can get better and better and better.

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