U-19: It's a Really Small World

By Nelson Coffin

Calvert Hall standouts Nick Williams and Kevin Huntley tout a special marquee double billing this season. They've lead the suburban Baltimore Catholic school to a surprising playoff contention in the MIAA's "A" Conference this season. They hope to win the school's first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's title since 1975, when the nation's top high school conference was called was called the Maryland Scholastic Association or MSA. But more notably on a national scale, once the season is over they will each go their separate ways only to converge weeks later with their respective Nations' teams in nearby Towson. They will each represent a country at the Under-19 International Lacrosse Federation World Championships at Towson University this June 26 to July 5. Williams will wear the red, white and blue while Huntley dons just the red and the white.

Spend a week in LAX NIRVANA this Summer.

June 26-July 5 at Towson University


Just how far attackman Huntley and midfielder Williams can carry the Cards this spring remains to be seen. Being the marked men on Calvert Hall's bid to capture its first championship in almost 30 years is quickly becoming more of a difficult endeavor. The duo was limited to a pair of assists, both by Williams, in a 6-5 overtime loss to Gilman recently that wounded the team's chances for a first-round bye in the postseason. Whatever happens in the MIAA's, once the spring season has concluded, Williams and Huntley will try to keep in top game shape, as there will still be championships to vie for. Only this time it won't be as teammates.

Huntley, whose dad, David, is a Canadian import and former U-19 performer who was a starter on NCAA championship squads at Johns Hopkins in 1978-79, will also represent our northern neighbors in the battle for U-19 world supremacy. Williams was a surprise qualifier for the U.S. squad after sparkling at the five-day tryouts last summer. "I was just going to have some fun," said Williams, who first turned heads while garnering accolades at the Top 205 Camp prior to the Under-19 tryouts. "It's an honor to have made the team. I still haven't come down from my cloud yet." Williams felt that he didn't play that well in the showcase.

Fortunately for him, the selectors, including U.S. Under-19 Coach Bob Shriver, disagreed with the 5-foot-10, 190-pound speed merchant headed to the Naval Academy Prep School with an eye on becoming a Division-I football player at Navy. "His athleticism just stood out," said, Shriver whose Boys' Latin team captured the MIAA A Conference title last spring with a stirring 12-7 triumph over Loyola Blakefield. "He's a kid who has had moments of brilliance but had been inconsistent. He seems like he's at a different level now."

Boys' Latin's Bob Shriver is the US U-19 Coach

Shriver recalled how Williams wowed the selectors with five goals in one game, including a jaw-dropping lefthanded laser. "When you make plays like that, it clearly makes a lasting impression," noted Shriver. "He played really well, especially early. A couple of times the coaches were just saying, 'yikes.'" Although Williams had a good year making the jump from the county public school league to the rugged A Conference after transferring from Towson High prior to the 2002 season, Williams (24 goals, 6 assists) sometimes would match a remarkable play with a mistake for the Cardinals.

That led to a mid-season demotion to the defensive midfield, which turned out to be a blessing for the youngster's all-around game. "The great thing is that when we moved him (to shortstick defender), he didn't complain," said Calvert Hall Coach Bryan Kelly. "It really helped him with defense and in the international game (no horns for play stoppage, quick whistles) you have to play defense, too."

Williams on the defensive end

That quick tempo works to Williams' advantage. "It's the perfect style for him because it's such a transitional game," said Kelly. "He told me that things just kind of clicked for him, that he finally understood what we've been trying to show him."

"Coach Kelly has been trying to get it into my head to just run," said Williams. "And playing defense helped me recognize all the slide packages." This year Williams has been as good offensively as he has been on defense, whistling in an overtime rocket to beat Gilman earlier in the year, scoring twice in a key triumph over St. Mary's and generally forcing defenses out of just zeroing in on Huntley.

Huntley v. Gilman

In a 12-6 victory over three-time defending Class 4A-3A state champion Dulaney, Williams rifled in the go-ahead goal that ignited Calvert Hall's strong second half. He scored twice that game and has compiled 25 goals and 17 assists this season as an old-fashioned two-way middie.

He will try to unleash some of that versatility on Huntley and the Canadians next month, combining speed, smash-mouth football ruggedness and newfound maturity to aid the red white and blue effort. Williams was a fine runner/defensive back for a 10-1 Cardinal squad that was rated fifth in the state by the Associated Press.

Williams v. Gilman

Huntley, a 16-year-old junior who has already notched 67 goals and 32 feeds this spring for the 14-4 Cards, is the lacrosse equivalent of a crafty southpaw in baseball. Although he certainly can shoot with authority, it's his accuracy that wows opponents and teammates alike.

In the encounter with Dulaney, Princeton-bound defender Zac Jungers covered Huntley about as well as anybody has - with the exception of North Carolina recruit Gentry Fitzpatrick in the Gilman game. Nevertheless, Huntley walked off Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field with a sweet victory and six points (5 goals, 1 assist) while the hard-working Jungers left with admiration for his adversary. "He's just such a threat," said Jungers. "Even when you deny him inside, he can still go out and shoot from the restraining line."

Huntley acknowledged that nothing came easy in the head-to-head confrontation with the agile longstick. "I came out and practiced here yesterday," said Huntley, whose father was a two-time First-Team All-America for the Blue Jays. "My dad had some good games on this field and my shots were falling. But sometimes you have to take tough shots and sometimes you get lucky."

Huntley v. Dulaney

Dulaney Coach Gary Schrieber was amazed at Huntley's shooting touch. "He can shoot hard," said Schrieber. "But it's the way he places the ball that makes him so good."

U.S. U-19 defender Eric Zerrlaut, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound bruiser from St. Mary's who shadowed Huntley in both contests against the Cards, fell into the trap of trying to play takeaway from his smaller rival.

"You can't throw checks on him, because that's when he makes his moves," said Zerrlaut, who will join future Hopkins teammates Kyle Dowd, Greg Peyser and Matt Pinto on the U.S. roster. "He wants you to throw checks. I would have been a lot better off if I hadn't thrown any checks at him."

Matt Pinto played last summer for the E-Lacrosse team.
This year he plays for the US U-19 Squad.

Huntley, a shade taller and some 25 pounds lighter than Williams, racked up three scores and two assists against the Saints, which is just another day at the office for the Towson resident who joined the Canadian U-19 team at the behest of his dad, who is also a Canadian National Adult Team coach, and another expatriate from the Great White North. "I've gotten to know Gary Gait pretty well, and he asked me to try out," said Huntley.

Only 23 Canadian players emerged from the four-day sessions that began with 200 hopefuls trying their best to impress. Huntley will surely have his hands full confronting guys who already will have a year of D-I experience before he even reaches senior status. Yet Kelly is not concerned about his star's ability to endure punishment from bigger, older defenders. "He's the toughest kid I've ever coached," said Kelly, a member of the 1987 U.S. U-19 outfit that triumphed in Australia with three of his Calvert Hall teammates. "It's amazing what he has to go through every game."

Williams thinks the World Games will be a terrific test for the Cardinal tandem and well worth the effort. "I'm looking forward to playing against Kevin and the best in the world," he said.

The Calvert Hall-versus-Calvert Hall angle should make for an interesting plotline when the teammates tangle. "From my standpoint it was just a great experience," said Kelly, a close defender on North Carolina's last title team in 1991. "We're proud of them at Calvert Hall. But the main thing now is for both of them to focus on our program here [and now]." There are, after all, important games for the two stars to play together before they part ways to play the games of summer.

May 8, 2003

A QUESTION TO E-LAX READERS: We are considering doing a free stringing clinic in Baltimore for U-19 players and ticket buyers, but only if we get enough interest to put together a good class at short notice. If you would be interested in attending, e-mail us to let us know and we will e-mail you back if we do it.

What are you doing this Summer?

June 26-July 5 at Towson University