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May 25, 2008

Blue Devils fail to rise to occasion

I can't take anything away from Johns Hopkins because the Blue Jays executed their game plan in their 10-9 upset win over top-ranked Duke Saturday in the Division I NCAA tournament semifinals. But I think Duke wilted away under the pressure.

Speaking to some observers who watched the Blue Devils practice earlier here this week, Duke offensive players had trouble pitching and catching in practice. The Blue Devils lacked intensity, and maybe head coach John Danowski thought that was nothing new because the Blue Devils had played "loose" all season.

But clearly, this was a Duke team that was only a shell of itself Saturday. The Blue Devils became frustrated against the Hopkins defense, and the most disappointing aspect was that their top players, attackmen Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, committed several turnovers.

It had to be tough playing at Duke this season. The team's only goal was to get back to the national championship game, and the Blue Devils played under a microscope. Actually, they played well the entire season, but I think the pressure finally got to them Saturday. Hopkins played a good game, but Duke folded as well.

Posted by Mike Preston at 3:33 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Evans and Zerrlaut shine

Two days ago, I blogged about how the spotlight would be trained on the matchup between Johns Hopkins defensemen Michael Evans and Eric Zerrlaut on Duke attackmen Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, respectively, prior to Saturday’s semifinal.

Evans, a junior from South River, and Zerrlaut, a senior from St. Mary’s, did not wilt in the limelight as their ability to limit Danowski and Greer proved vital in the No. 5 seed Blue Jays’ 10-9 upset of the top-seeded Blue Devils.

Evans marked Danowski, the NCAA leader in career points, to the tune of two goals and an assist. Although Greer registered three assists, the NCAA record holder for most goals in a single season was held to just one goal by Zerrlaut.

Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the game plan was to play a lacrosse version of a box-and-two, leaving Evans and Zerrlaut on man-to-man coverage with neither of those two players sliding away from their man.

"I was a little hesitant, but once coach and I talked about it and I started watching film, I’ve felt confident over the last couple of games that we could be slower going to me," said Evans, who limited Danowski to a goal and an assist in last year’s championship game. "They kind of left me on an island, but we do that every day in practice. I’m used to that."

Zerrlaut gave up a lone assist to Greer last May, but admitted there was a slight period of adjustment to the game plan.

"At times, it was tough because I felt like we couldn’t use our usual defensive slide packages because I wasn’t meant to really leave him alone very much," Zerrlaut said. "So we were a little tentative in the beginning going through a defense that we don’t usually use consistently. We usually use our crease-sliding as our go-to as most teams do, and a lot of times, we didn’t do that because he would be inside. But I think it was a great game plan. And after it was 2-1 in the first quarter, we thought it was the right game plan. I think we knew right then that we had a good shot at this thing."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:27 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Kevin Huntley is No. 1

Well, at least his goal is. The Johns Hopkins senior attackman’s acrobatic, behind-the-head score in the second quarter of Saturday’s 10-9 upset of top-seeded Duke was branded the No. 1 play on ESPN's SportsCenter last night and this morning.

"It’s pretty exciting," Huntley said. "It’s not something – in the grand scheme of things in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish – that means anything, but it’s exciting. It makes it fun, makes it a little interesting."

Huntley said he found 24 text messages on his cell phone after the game complimenting him for his goal. But it’s not the first time lacrosse has made its way to the sports channel’s top plays list.

Two weeks ago, Ohio State senior goalkeeper Stefan Schroder earned the No. 1 distinction for his end-to-end goal against Cornell in an NCAA tournament first-round game, and Huntley said he saw a replay of a behind-the-legs goal by John Grant Jr. of the Major Lacrosse League’s Rochester Rattlers.

"To have lacrosse among the top plays in general is a testament to the growth of the sport," Huntley said. "SportsCenter has had full coverage on both of our games. It’s great for the growth of the sport, and I’m happy that the sport has gone this far."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:55 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Rest of All-Americans revealed

Yesterday, I reported that Johns Hopkins senior midfielder Paul Rabil was named to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-America first team. Rabil is the only Baltimore-area player given that honor.

I was sent the list for second and third teams and honorable mention (thanks go to Stacie Michaud, the men’s lacrosse contact and sports information director at Navy), and the Baltimore area is well represented.

Maryland senior defenseman Joe Cinosky, Navy senior defenseman Jordan DiNola, UMBC senior midfielder Terry Kimener and Johns Hopkins senior midfielder Stephen Peyser were selected to the second team. Those four were joined by Ohio State senior midfielder Kevin Buchanan (Calvert Hall) and Virginia senior attackman Ben Rubeor (Loyola).

Johns Hopkins put three players on the third team, including senior defenseman Matt Bocklet, junior defenseman Michael Evans and senior attackman Kevin Huntley. Virginia sophomore midfielder Brian Carroll (Gilman) and North Carolina junior midfielder Ben Hunt (Severna Park) are also on the third team.

The Honorable Mention group includes three UMBC players in junior defenseman Bobby Atwell, junior goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins and junior attackman Ryan Smith, two Maryland players in sophomore defenseman Brian Farrell and junior midfielder Jeff Reynolds, one Loyola player in senior attackman Shane Koppens, and one Navy player in senior attackman Nick Mirabito.

The list of players who played at area high schools includes Georgetown sophomore defenseman Barney Ehrmann (Gilman), Notre Dame senior attackman Ryan Hoff (Dulaney), North Carolina senior defenseman Tim Kaiser (Loyola) and North Carolina junior goalkeeper Grant Zimmerman (Gilman).

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:16 AM | | Comments (0)
        

May 24, 2008

Feel the love, lacrosse fans

Any concerns about enthusiasm in the New England area for the sport have been wiped out as today's announced attendance of 48,224 is the fourth-largest to watch a lacrosse game in NCAA history. Here are the largest crowds:

51,719 to watch the NCAA semifinals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in 2007

49,562 to watch the NCAA semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in 2006

48,302 to watch the NCAA finals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in 2007

48,224 to watch the NCAA semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., today

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:54 PM | | Comments (6)
        

May 23, 2008

Spotlight on Michael Evans and Eric Zerrlaut

Greetings from New England on the eve of the NCAA Tournament Final Four. Although the semifinals will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., I'm staying in Providence, R.I., which is about 40 minutes south of Foxborough by car.

When No. 5 seed Johns Hopkins meets top-seeded Duke tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., two of the biggest match-ups will likely entail Blue Jays defensemen Michael Evans and Eric Zerrlaut on Matt Danowski and Zack Greer.

The performances of Evans, a junior from South River, and Zerrlaut, a senior from St. Mary's, against Danowski and Greer were instrumental in Johns Hopkins defeating the Blue Devils in last year's national championship game. Evans limited Danowski to a goal and an assist, while Zerrlaut handcuffed Greer to a lone assist.

"You just try to limit his touches," Evans said of his strategy against Danowski, the NCAA leader in career points. "With him, you've just got to try to get into his hands, but he's so good that he can free his hands up out of nowhere."

"He's a great player, and they're a great team," Zerrlaut said of Greer, who set the NCAA record for goals in a single season this spring. "It's more important to protect the scheme of our defense, but I think when you don't need to [slide], it's better to be tighter on him."

The Blue Jays will need a similar effort from Evans and Zerrlaut if they harbor any hope of a third national title in four years. In the regular-season meeting for both teams on April 5, Danowski registered a goal and six assists, while Greer posted six goals and an assist.

"I think a lot of people have identified mine and Michael's match-ups as one of the more important ones of the day," Zerrlaut said. "I just really hope that we play well."

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:11 PM | | Comments (0)
        

May 16, 2008

Stephen Peyser talks

Johns Hopkins senior midfielder Stephen Peyser is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound specimen with bowling balls for biceps and granite slabs for calves. And yet, when he talks, people listen because he’s thoughtful and introspective.

A feature on Peyser is slated to run tomorrow, but here a few snippets from a 30-minute interview conducted on Thursday. Peyser revealed that even though his older brothers Michael and Greg had attended and played for Johns Hopkins, he was torn between committing to the Blue Jays or Virginia.

"I remember the night when I committed to Hopkins, it was literally, 'Dial one number or dial the other,'" he recalled. "It was that close. And I can’t thank myself enough for making the right decision."

When I asked him what tipped the scales to the Blue Jays, Peyser replied, "What tipped the scales was Coach Petro’s [Dave Pietramala’s] loyalty to me and to my family and to the faith that he showed in me throughout the recruiting process. No coach ever did that, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play for a guy like him."

Peyser, who has been facing off since he was a fifth grader, said his toughest opponents were Loyola’s Dan Kallaugher and Syracuse’s Danny Brennan.

"They’re real scrappy guys who know how to work," Peyser said. "The face-off position is all about knowing how to work – how to work the stick, how to work the ref, how to work the whistle. Those guys are the best at it."

Peyser, a political science major, has already lined up a job with J.P. Morgan after graduation, but the job doesn’t start until Sept. 15. He would like to play with his brothers for the New Jersey Pride of the Major Lacrosse League, but he also said that he wants to stay here.

"I don’t really want to run away from Baltimore too quickly," Stephen Peyser said. "I just realized in the past six months that I really do love Baltimore, and I don’t think it was like that my whole time here. I want to stay for a little bit and not run out of here."

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:38 AM | | Comments (1)
        

May 15, 2008

Nothing Cavalier about Virginia

While conducting interviews to collect information for a feature on Maryland senior defenseman Joe Cinosky (expected to be published in the print edition Friday), Virginia coach Dom Starsia graciously gave me a few minutes of his time.

His second-seeded Cavaliers -- who will meet the seventh-seeded Terps in a NCAA tournament quarterfinal on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis -- survived an upset bid by UMBC on Sunday, and Starsia was well aware of how fortunate his team was to win, 10-9.

"When I was standing on the sidelines and it was 9-9 with five minutes to play, I was wishing for a breather," he said. "But having the luxury to look back on it, I think it was the best experience for us.

"I think we benefited a great deal from having been pushed to the limit the way that UMBC pushed us on Sunday," Starsia continued. "I think it kind of gets us back to game speed, it gets us back to team speed and back into the mindset of what's absolutely required to win games at this level and at this time of the year."

Starsia was pleased to see the productivity of his starting attack of senior Ben Rubeor and juniors Garrett Billings and Danny Glading. That trio scored nine of the team's 10 goals against UMBC, and Sunday was the first time the three players were healthy. (Rubeor has dealt with a knee injury, Billings a back injury and Glading a hamstring.)

"We ask a lot of those guys and put a lot of responsibility on their shoulders," Starsia said of his attack. "They're good kids and good players, and we expect them to respond in big moments. The question that might be better asked is what happened to our midfield. We expect a step-up there at the same time."

Saturday's meeting will be the third this season between the Cavaliers and Maryland. The Terps won the first contest, 13-7, on March 29, but Virginia got the equalizer in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, winning 11-8. How difficult will it be to beat a rival that seemingly knows your schemes and systems for a second time in one season?

"You just don't have the luxury of worrying about that," Starsia said. "One of us is going to have to do that. ... We're going to have to play our best game and deal with the hand that we've been dealt, and that's trying to beat Maryland for a second time."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:07 AM | | Comments (1)
        

May 13, 2008

Washington College to meet familiar foe

When Washington defeated Lynchburg, 12-9, on Sunday in an NCAA tournament Division III second-round contest, that set up a quarterfinal meeting between the Shoremen (14-3) and Gettysburg (16-2) at Gettysburg on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Those teams have faced each other twice this season with the Bullets winning in the regular season (17-10 on April 5) and the Centennial Conference championship final (12-7 on May 4).

"Someone said to me today that in the South, you have to win two or three national championships just to get to the national championship game," Washington coach J.B. Clarke joked. "Would I have preferred to play somebody other than Gettysburg? I don't know. It's easy to prepare for them because we know them so well. We have to beat teams of that caliber to get where we want to go anyway. So I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge."

The Shoremen are making their fifth quarterfinal appearance since Clarke became the head coach prior to the 1999 season. Although they have advanced to the semifinals just once, Washington is 2-0 against the Bullets in the postseason.

"They like the challenge," Clarke said of his players. "They know that Gettysburg has gotten the best of them a couple times, and I think they're ready to try and turn the tide a little bit."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
        

And then there was one ...

Salisbury coach Jim Berkman became the NCAA leader in career wins when the seven-time defending national champion Sea Gulls defeated Ohio Wesleyan, 13-5, on Saturday in a NCAA Tournament Division III first-round contest.

Berkman, who is now 327-35 in 21 years of coaching, passed former Army coach Jack Emmer for the record.

"I think a lot more people were thinking about it than I was," Berkman said with a laugh. "I just feel very fortunate that I've had a lot of good players and a lot of good teams because we've had a lot of talent play here over the years. I feel very fortunate to have coached them and be the guy that's been managing the ship down here."

Salisbury (19-0) will meet Cabrini (17-2) in a quarterfinal on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Sea Gull Stadium. The Sea Gulls have made it to the quarterfinals in all 19 years of Berkman's tenure there and have failed to advance to the semifinals just six times.

"I think some people take it for granted once in a while, but as coaches, we definitely don't take it for granted," Berkman said of the quarterfinals. "The expectation from the players' perspective is that if they don't make it to the championship game, the season isn't successful. That's from the players, and that's because of the bar that has been set."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:24 AM | | Comments (1)
        

May 11, 2008

Hofstra honors fallen teammate

When Pride coach Seth Tierney spoke minutes after his team's 10-4 loss to Johns Hopkins in an NCAA tournament first-round matchup earlier today, his voice was thick with emotion, and at times, he apologized for getting choked up.

Part of that emotion stemmed from watching his team's season come to an end and the eventual farewell to three departing seniors. But a good chunk of Tierney's sentiment had to do with Nick Colleluori.

Colleluori, who would have been a senior this spring, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and passed away on Nov. 28, 2006. But before his death, Colleluori envisioned the creation of a foundation that would help raise awareness and funds to battle the disease -- a vision that became reality when the HEADstrong Foundation was formed. He even drew the foundation's logo while waiting to undergo a procedure.

"The only hard part is saying goodbye to a couple of seniors that have given everything they had to a program that's been through an awful lot with losing a young man," Tierney said. "It's been tough for them."

The team participated in the inaugural HEADstrong Foundation Nick Colleluori Memorial Classic last October, helping to raise $75,000. Plans are under way for a second lacrosse tournament, and the players wore patches with the No. 27 (Colleluori's jersey number) on their uniforms this spring.

"You wake up, you think of him," said junior attackman Tom Dooley. "... You walk into the locker room, and you see him. I don't think anybody in the past has meant more to this program than he has. He's the heart and soul, and he continues to be the heart and soul of this program. He was looking out for us a lot this year. We got him a [Colonial Athletic Association] conference championship, and every day is for him."

For more information, please visit www.HEADstrongfoundation.org.

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:42 PM | | Comments (0)
        

May 9, 2008

Navy: Rested or rusty?

When the Midshipmen (9-5) take the field against fourth-seeded North Carolina (8-5) tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in a NCAA tournament first-round matchup, it will have been 16 days since Navy lost to Colgate in the Patriot League semifinals on April 25.

So will the Midshipmen be energetic or lethargic? They pick the former.

"The week off helped us," sophomore midfielder Basil Daratsos said. "It almost made us more hungry to play lacrosse because we didn’t think we were going to be here. So it’s a second chance that we never thought we would get. So I don’t think we can take it for granted."

Many Navy players thought they would never get this chance. Daratsos said he was pained when he saw senior attackman Nick Mirabito shed a few tears while embracing his mother after the Colgate setback.

But then Princeton lost to Brown and Army was upset by Pennsylvania last Saturday, and the Midshipmen discovered they were in the NCAA tournament Sunday night. The wait was excruciating, but coach Richie Meade said a valuable lesson was learned.

"When you get something taken away from you, you start to appreciate it even more," Meade said of the automatic bid that comes with winning the Patriot League. Navy had captured the qualifier for the previous four years before Colgate's win this season.

"So for us to have the opportunity to play again and see what level we can play at is obviously very rewarding and appreciated," Meade said.

The Midshipmen have an arduous task in trying to knock out a Tar Heels squad that has beaten Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame and Cornell this season. North Carolina bounced Navy from the first round last spring, winning 12-8.

"We owe them one," senior midfielder Terence Higgins said. "We’re excited. They’re good. They’re always good. … We just have to be sound in what we do. Every team has an agenda, their own M.O., and we just need to worry about what we do. We do everything 100 miles per hour, and we need to enjoy it."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:15 AM | | Comments (0)
        

May 8, 2008

Hopkins not overlooking Hofstra

The Blue Jays have rebounded nicely from a five-game losing skid, ending the season with five consecutive wins to grab the fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament. But the first-round game pits Johns Hopkins (8-5) against Hofstra (9-5), the team that sent the Blue Jays on their tailspin.

"We don't think they can beat us. We know they can," Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said of the Pride, who prevailed, 8-7, in overtime on March 8. "They've beaten us. So there is a great level of respect we have for them."

Although the Blue Jays have never lost to Hofstra at home in seven meetings and never in the NCAA tournament in three tries, the Pride has won two of the last three matchups. Coach Seth Tierney, the former associate head coach at Johns Hopkins who recruited guys like seniors Paul Rabil, Kevin Huntley and Stephen Peyser, seems to be taking advantage of his inside knowledge.

Hofstra upended Drexel for the Colonial Athletic Association championship and has won four straight courtesy of an opportunistic offense sparked by freshman attackman Jay Card and the improving play of sophomore goalkeeper Danny Orlando.

"They're a very formidable opponent, one that -- quite honestly -- got the better of us," Pietramala said. "They played harder than we did, they played smarter than we did. So when that happens, you have to respect them."

While many players might have preferred tangling with a team they hadn't seen this season, Pietramala said the team can't be concerned with that.

"You can't pick or choose," he said. "We all want to say that this team deserves this and that team deserves that, but the bottom line is it's the NCAA tournament. There are 16 teams selected, and we're one of those 16 teams. We have to go play whoever they put us up against."

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:58 PM | | Comments (0)
        

May 7, 2008

Maryland doesn't believe the hype

One of the first objections observers have had about the 16-team field in the NCAA Tournament is the presence of Denver, which finished third in the Great Western Lacrosse League behind Notre Dame and Ohio State.

Maryland coach Dave Cottle, whose seventh-seeded Terps play host to the 10th-seeded Pioneers on Saturday at noon, isn't one of those critics.

"I give them credit; they played a tough schedule," Cottle said, noting that Denver added North Carolina, Cornell, UMBC and Colgate to its non-conference schedule. "We've got our hands full."

The Pioneers went 2-5 against teams that made the tournament, but they did defeat Notre Dame and Colgate. Cottle pointed out that Denver's 10-6 record could be better had the team not scheduled back-to-back road games against UMBC and Towson on March 1 and 2.

"That's a little hard to do," Cottle said. "So playing one game, I think that will help them a little bit."  

Cottle said he was impressed with the Pioneers' offense, but would need more time to draft a game plan against Denver.

"I have to study them a little better to see what we're going to do," he said. "We'll do our best to try and figure out who they are in a short period of time and try to come up with a game plan that will give us a chance to win."

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:55 PM | | Comments (0)
        

May 6, 2008

Loyola's second date with Duke

Like UMBC coach Don Zimmerman, Loyola coach Charley Toomey has every right to be livid about getting matched up against top-seeded Duke when Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Canisius has a weaker RPI and strength of schedule than the Eastern College Athletic Conference champion Greyhounds.

And like Zimmerman, Toomey isn't complaining about traveling to Durham, N.C., to tangle with the Blue Devils on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

"We knew going into the tournament, we were going to see a terrific team," Toomey said after the brackets were released Sunday night. "Whether it was Syracuse, Virginia or Duke, that first-round game was going to be a difficult one. First and foremost, we're excited to be back in the tournament."

Loyola was the victim of the NCAA's archaic travel policy, which limits just two teams to flights for trips of more than 350 miles. With Denver flying to Maryland and Colgate flying to Notre Dame, the Greyhounds and Canisius had to drive to the site of their first-round opponent. So the Griffins remained in New York, taking on Syracuse, while Loyola got the unenviable task of meeting Duke.

Toomey, however, was philosophical about the shuffling.

"Being in Baltimore is great for recruiting, but it's also 350 miles from just about anywhere on the Eastern seaboard," he said. "... But you pick your poison. We're excited to be headed down there, and we're going to go after it and have a lot of fun this week knowing that we're back in the tournament."

Saturday's contest is a rematch of Duke's 21-8 throttling of the Greyhounds on March 8. Toomey said the team has already reviewed the game film.

"We're still going to stress a lot of the things we stressed in that game -- defending one possession, being smart with the ball, not putting the ball on the ground and allowing Duke to run," he said. "That was our goal the first time around, but we didn't achieve our goal. We kind of have to redefine what we're trying to do and make sure we execute a little better than we had." 

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:08 AM | | Comments (1)
        

May 4, 2008

Leftovers from UMBC-Albany

UMBC's postseason run will likely depend heavily on how the No. 7 Retrievers fill the void left by junior attackman Ryan Smith, who -- according to coach Don Zimmerman -- tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during last night's America East tournament final against Albany at UMBC Stadium in Catonsville.

Smith, who leads the team in goals with 29, injured his knee just 77 seconds into the contest when he and senior midfielder Terry Kimener forced out a Great Danes player near midfield. Smith had to be helped off the field by two team trainers and was spotted using crutches after the conclusion of the game.

"He's a great player," sophomore attackman Matt Latham (Liberty) said of Smith, a Fallston graduate and Essex Community College transfer. "Can't say enough about how much we miss him. But that's when we have to come together as a team."

Without Smith, the Retrievers appeared confused on offense, especially in the first half when they settled for some questionable shots from long range that Albany senior goalkeeper Brett Queener gobbled up. But Latham and sophomore midfielder Kyle Wimer combined for seven goals to help UMBC rally from a nine-goal deficit to edge the Great Danes, 14-13.

So who will fill Smith's spot on attack? The most immediate option is Kimener, who moved from midfield to attack last night. But Zimmerman could also use freshmen attackmen Dom Scalzo or David Scott or add a fourth midfielder (junior Alex Hopmann and freshman Jamie Kimbles, who scored the game-winning goal, would be the first two options) to the offense.

"We'll start to figure that out on Monday," Zimmerman said. "But I think we did a pretty good job adjusting tonight. We just asked guys to step in. ... We get an awful lot of mileage out of a few guys and especially when you're down the way we were. We just had to keep going back."

Other notes:

*A key to the Retrievers' comeback was winning 19 of 29 faceoffs. Senior Taylor Marino won a career-high 19 of 28 and is now 14 faceoff wins shy of tying Ray Ignacio's all-time record of 450 career faceoff wins. "I think Taylor did a heck of a job of scrapping for the ball, and our wings did a good job," Zimmerman said. "Possession is everything when you're down by nine goals. ... Your whole team is depending on you to get the ball. So we had to keep fighting, and it was huge for us."

*Winning the America East tournament gave UMBC the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers will be making their third straight appearance in the tournament for the first time in school history.

*With 12 wins in 15 games, UMBC eclipsed the school's single-season record for Division I wins of 11 -- a mark set in 1999 and matched last year.

*The Retrievers have captured 13 consecutive games at home and 18 of the last 19. The streak is the third-longest in the nation behind Duke and Notre Dame. 

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:34 AM | | Comments (0)
        

May 1, 2008

Villa Julie going pink

The Mustangs men's lacrosse team will participate in a show of support for the seriously injured girlfriend of a player by dyeing their stick heads in pink and using those sticks in Saturday's home game against Stevens Tech at 3 p.m.

Coach Paul Cantabene said that sophomore midfielder Cory Baldwin (Calvert Hall) and his girlfriend Brittany Perkey were involved in a car accident about three weeks ago. Although Baldwin suffered only minor injuries, Perkey, a sophomore at Villa Julie, suffered a broken leg and pelvis and head injuries. Perkey is still in a coma at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, but Cantabene said family and friends are hopeful that she will awaken soon.

Cantabene said the players decided to honor Perkey by dyeing their stick heads with her favorite color, and the five-member coaching staff will wear pink shirts.

"They kind of did it on their own," Cantabene said of the players. "I'm in full support of it. It's kind of nice."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:20 AM | | Comments (6)
        

Off the radar, Mustangs riding high

While the Division I schools grab most of the attention in the area, head coach Paul Cantabene has been quietly building up Villa Julie. In his fourth season, Cantabene has the Mustangs at 12-4 and ranked No. 10 in Division III.

You kind of figured the Mustangs would have success. Cantabene has been as assistant at Hopkins, Maryland and Towson before taking the job at Villa Julie. Cantabene has a lot of energy and it will be interesting to see how long he stays at Villa Julie, because a number of larger schools will try to sign him.

Overcoaching to blame for slowdown?

A lot of fans talk about it, but apparently the head coaches aren't listening. The game of lacrosse has slowed down over the years, and we're seeing fewer fast breaks.

Why?

One of the reasons is the overcoaching. The days of the two-way midfielders are over. Instead of flying down field for fast breaks, the midfielders are running to the box to get replaced. We've got long-pole middies, defensive middies, offensive middies. Shoot, some of these guys are only getting on the field for 18 seconds and then they're off. There's no continuity.

The sad thing is that it's not just the college game -- it's in high school lacrosse and recreation leagues as well.

More on concussions

I saw that Steve Stenersen, president of US Lacrosse, wanted me to contact him about a column I did recently on concussions, and how the "lords of lacrosse" keep ignoring it. In Stenersen's letter in The Sun Sunday, he mentioned all the things that the governing body is doing and blah, blah, blah ...

All I know is that kids are dropping like flies, and the designs of the helmets haven't kept pace with the speed of the game, and the increased physical violence. And I'm not a doctor, or a scientist, or on some board or focus group collecting a check and doing nothing.

Anytime you criticize U.S. lacrosse, Stenersen has to reply. He reminds me of a former Baltimore mayor who went on to become the governor of Maryland.

Posted by Mike Preston at 9:37 AM | | Comments (0)
        
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Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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