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LACROSSE: Respect, scholarships starting to trickle South

Here are a few words you don't want to hear from a coach when trying to get a college lacrosse scholarship: They play lacrosse in the South?

Apparently word hasn't spread. When North Springs standout midfielder Lindsay Deighton was visiting colleges in Maryland trying to gauge interest, that was exactly the response she got from one assistant at Loyola.

"She had never heard of lacrosse being in the South at all, but she was happy that it had spread there," Deighton said. "She ended up giving me some tips for contacting coaches and getting a scholarship."

Those tips panned out. Deighton earned a scholarship to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., becoming the first girl from Georgia to earn a Division I scholarship.

Deighton's scholarship is a sign that attitudes toward Georgia lacrosse are starting to change. Westminster coach Jay Watts said he remembers a time when he called a Northern coach to try to get a scholarship for one of his stars, and the coach flat out said they don't recruit in Georgia.

That's not the case anymore. Deighton earned the first scholarship, and Watts sees many more on the way. He said the Milton girls, a team that has been dominant early this season, have an attacker, Kelsey Adams, who definitely can play Division I. And North Springs coach Julie LaFramboise anticipates her players' attitudes being, "If Lindsay can do it, I can do it."

This weekend, North Springs and Westminster will play in an invitational with one of Ohio's best teams --- Upper Arlington of Columbus, the state runner-up last season and champion in 2002.

It'll be an opportunity to see how Georgia's best teams stack up with one of the Midwest's best, but more important, it gives individual stars a chance to see how they can compete against equal or better talent.

"Georgia hasn't gotten the same kind of looks as places like Ohio," said Upper Arlington coach Wendy Gallapoo, who has graduated four Division I players in the past three years. "Coaches are increasingly looking to those areas for key players, but I think there's a tendency not to recruit there, [that] you're recruiting kids who don't have the experience playing the best players."

As Georgia lacrosse continues to grow --- three more varsity teams were added this year, a girls and boys team from Riverwood and a girls team at Columbus --- the South has a definite weather advantage. Because of a recent snowfall, Upper Arlington has had only six good practices this season.