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May 29, 2009

Cornell's Seibald wins the Tewaaraton

There are some who will argue that a miscarriage of justice occurred when the Tewaaraton, lacrosse’s version of the Heisman, was handed to the Big Red’s Max Seibald.

Certainly, the senior midfielder didn’t have the numbers that competitors like Duke attackman Ned Crotty, Virginia attackman Danny Glading and even Bryant attackman Zack Greer had. And proponents of Syracuse midfielder Matt Abbott will assert that he was a versatile workhorse who played for an Orange team that captured an NCAA-record 11 national titles and second in a row.

But Seibald, who registered 28 goals and 10 assists, was the undisputed leader of a Cornell squad that some might say overachieved in reaching the NCAA championship final against Syracuse on Memorial Day. He took faceoffs, played defense, and was the glue of a program that hadn’t been to the Final Four before Seibald’s presence since 1988. With Seibald, the Big Red went to the semifinals in 2007 and 2009.

When I asked coach Jeff Tambroni after Cornell’s quarterfinal victory over Princeton to assess Seibald’s impact on the program, Tambroni returned the favor by asking me, "How much time do you have to talk?" And he was serious.

Seibald graduates as the first player in Ivy League history to earn first-team honors all four years and the 11th player in school history to exceed 140 career points (141).

On Thursday night, he became only the third player in the history of the Tewaaraton to earn the award even though his team did not win the national title. It’s the second time in three years that this has occurred with Duke attackman Matt Danowski collecting that honor in 2007 after leading the Blue Devils to the NCAA championship final against Johns Hopkins.

Northwestern senior midfielder Hannah Nielsen was honored as the women's winner for the second straight year (she was also one of five Tewaaraton finalists in 2007). Nielsen set records for assists in the NCAA tournament (16) and assists in a title game (six), which was won by the Wildcats for the fifth straight year.

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

May 28, 2009

Loyola taking to the skies next season

With Ohio State, Denver, Air Force, Quinnipiac and Bellarmine migrating from the Great Western Lacrosse League, playing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference figures to be a boon for the Greyhounds in terms of inflating their air miles.

But unlike his East Coast counterparts, Loyola coach Charley Toomey said he has asked his administration to schedule a home game against Denver and an away game against Air Force (or vice versa) and a home game against Ohio State and an away game against Bellarmine (or vice versa).

"I just think these conference games are too doggone important to try to play two of them in one weekend," he said. "… You’re dealing with travel, you’re dealing with the altitude. For me, those games are too doggone important to take lightly."

There will be no conference tournament in 2010, but the league is expected to discuss implementing a four-team tourney in 2011 and beyond. The dilemma for the Greyhounds is that the final weekend of the regular season is usually reserved for their annual tilt with Johns Hopkins.

"That’s something we’d like to maintain," Toomey said. "I’ve long said that we would be very willing to move the tournament into the Patriot League weekend, which is the weekend prior to our Hopkins game. That’s on the table right now. And in this day of budgets, that’s another flight for all of us that are in the tournament and something that we’re really going to have to look at financially."

Toomey also announced that the school will retain its series with Georgetown and Notre Dame despite both of those programs moving into the Big East.

"It’s become a terrific rivalry in the last couple years," he said. "… We recruit against those schools, and it’s just become a great rivalry. They’re two schools that are academically in line with Loyola College, and it’s a great opportunity for us to play two similar schools academically and athletically."

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola
        

Maryland well-represented in MLL Draft

The Major Lacrosse League held its annual college draft Wednesday night, and fair number of players with connections to the Baltimore area were selected. The first player from Baltimore to be drafted was North Carolina face-off specialist and Boys’ Latin graduate Shane Walterhoefer, who was taken by the Denver Outlaws with the seventh overall pick in the first round.

In the second round, the Washington Bayhawks selected Loyola long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci with the 11th overall pick and Denver drafted Johns Hopkins midfielder Brian Christopher at No. 14.

In the third round, Notre Dame attackman and Dulaney graduate Ryan Hoff went to the Chicago Machine at No. 17, Johns Hopkins defenseman Michael Evans to Washington at No. 18, and UMBC midfielder Peet Poillon to the Boston Cannons at No. 20. The Outlaws took Loyola attackman Shane Koppens at No. 21 before the Bayhawks selected Maryland midfielders Jeff Reynolds and Dan Groot at Nos. 23 and 26, respectively.

In the fourth round, North Carolina midfielder and Severna Park graduate Ben Hunt went to Washington at No. 28 and Denver drafted UMBC midfielder Alex Hopmann and UMBC goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins at Nos. 35 and 36, respectively.

In the fifth and final round, the Bayhawks took Salisbury midfielder Kylor Berkman with the 38th overall pick, and the Outlaws selected Cornell midfielder and Boys’ Latin graduate Rocco Romero at No. 41.

Syracuse, which became the first school to win back-to-back national championships since Princeton won three straight between 1996 and 1998, had the most players drafted with midfielders Dan Hardy and Matt Abbott, attackman Kenny Nims and defenseman Sid Smith taken in the first round. Nims was the first overall pick by Chicago.

UMBC, Cornell and Virginia were next with three players each.

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:45 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Salisbury, UMBC
        

Review & preview: Loyola

Here’s the third installment of a new series that checks in with the seven Division I programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and a look into the future. Next Monday, we’ll take a look at the teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament. Today, we take a spin with Loyola.

REVIEW

The good: The Greyhounds thrived on a strong attack powered by senior Shane Koppens (22 goals and 19 assists) and juniors Cooper MacDonnell (30, 8) and Collin Finnerty (24, 13). MacDonnell was his usual self as the unit’s finisher, but Koppens and Finnerty were pleasant surprises with their balance. "We certainly needed every point from our attack because that’s going to be our challenge next year, looking at our middies and wondering where our production is coming from," coach Charley Toomey said. ... Despite graduating Tim McDermott, who won 58.6 percent of his faceoffs last spring, junior John Schiavone was even better, winning 58.7 percent of his faceoffs to rank fifth in the country. "I really have got to give credit to our faceoff coach Steve Vaikness," Toomey said. "He mentors these guys and really gives them the tools to succeed at the highest level." ... Senior long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci (91 groundballs) was his usual ball-hawking self, but he also led the nation in caused turnovers with 51. The Greyhounds’ defense got even better with the development of junior Steve Layne, who became the team’s top shutdown defenseman.  

The bad: As potent as Loyola’s attack was, the midfield struggled to be a consistent force that could alleviate some of the pressure on the attack. Seniors Jimmy Daly (10, 3) and Jake Willcox (12, 0), sophomores Eric Lusby (11, 1) and Chris Basler (2, 10) and freshman Mike Sawyer (9, 4) took turns producing, but the Greyhounds could have used steadier play. "We did wish we had more points coming from the midfield, but we were pretty happy with them starting our offense and our attack finishing," Toomey said. "But that’s certainly going to be a challenge for us over the next couple months, getting a little more production out of our midfield." ... Sophomore goalkeeper Jake Hagelin’s numbers this season (7.93 goals-against average and .562 save percentage) aren’t terribly different from last year’s statistics (8.1 and .584). But Hagelin appeared at times to play unevenly and sometimes surrendered goals that he would have stopped last season. That’s why senior Alex Peaty played in five games and started twice. ... The Greyhounds missed the NCAA tournament due to the lack of a marquee victory, which they might have had if they had closed out a four-goal lead on Syracuse or scored in overtime against Johns Hopkins. The inability to come up with the game-winner in those two contests haunted Loyola.

PREVIEW

Personnel changes: The Greyhounds bid farewell to Koppens, Daly and Willcox. Langan might move into Koppens’ position, but he might get some competition from a pair of incoming freshman in Patrick Fanshaw, an Under Armour All-American from Calvert Hall, or Will Fredericks, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound attackman from San Francisco. Basler could replace Daly, but the team also welcomes a rookie group that includes 6-4, 205-pound Phil Dobson of New Milford, Conn., 6-2, 185-pound Davis Butts of Walpole, Mass., and Josh Hawkins of Deerfield, Mass. ... The defense takes a hit with the losses of Ricci and close defensemen Eddie Graham and Eric Kohl. But the unit will welcome back Layne, junior Kyle Cottrell, junior Steve Dircks, who missed the majority of the season due to a knee injury, and Peaty, who earned a medical redshirt for missing the 2008 season. Defenseman T.J. Harris from DeMatha might contribute as a freshman.

Outlook for 2010: Pretty decent. Loyola remains in a reconstituted Eastern College Athletic Conference that will replace Georgetown, Massachusetts, Penn State, St. John’s and Rutgers with Ohio State, Denver, Air Force, Quinnipiac and Bellarmine from the Great Western Lacrosse League. The Greyhounds should have a hand in determining the league champion as long as their revamped defense can overcome the graduation of Ricci, Graham and Kohl. And Loyola needs improved play from its midfield and goalies.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Loyola, Review & preview
        

May 27, 2009

2010 Women's Final Four in limbo

The men’s Final Four returns to Baltimore next year. What about the women’s Final Four?

Towson, which enjoyed record attendance in three categories while hosting the women’s tournament this past weekend, did not initially submit a bid for the 2010 and 2011 events due to potential conflicts with the proposed construction of a 5,000-seat arena next to Johnny Unitas Stadium.

"We were anticipating being in construction of our new arena, and so we didn’t feel as though – with [construction affecting] one of our parking lots – that would be a good idea to try to host a large event such as women’s lacrosse," Nance Reed, Towson senior associate athletic director and tournament director of 2008 and 2009 Women’s Lacrosse Championships, said, adding that the school has since applied to be the host next year. "But for 2010, we know right now we won’t be under construction at that point. Maybe close to it, but not quite there."

Reed, who is a sitting member of the NCAA’s Sports Management Cabinet, said the panel is expected to discuss the site selection either before or during a conference call at end of June.

"We like to host championships," she said. "We think we’ve got some great facilities, especially Johnny Unitas Stadium, and we like to show it off."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:41 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Towson
        

Review & preview: Towson

Here’s the second installment of a new series that checks in with the seven Division I programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Today, we take a look at Towson.

REVIEW

The good: The Tigers hoped that a goalie would emerge out of a group that included junior Rob Wheeler, sophomore Travis Love and freshman Andrew Wascavage, and Wheeler didn’t disappoint as he posted a respectable .557 save percentage and a 8.97 goals-against average. "We thought Rob Wheeler was pretty consistent throughout the year and did a good job and became more confident as the year went on," coach Tony Seaman said. ... Redshirt sophomore defenseman Marc Ingerman played well, earning a spot on the All-Colonial Athletic Association second team, and freshman Michael Landy started the last three games of the season. "Ingerman was only a freshman and turned out to be our best all-around player," Seaman said. "And then add him with Landy, who got a starting role in the last three games of the year." ... A number of underclassmen got extensive minutes, and although their inexperience showed in several games, the playing time should aid the players’ development. "That’s the greatest part of being a young player," Seaman said. "Next year, you’re a year older. I think that helps a lot. I think they come back knowing what it’s all about, and that’s huge."

The bad: As mentioned above, the Tigers’ youth yielded some mistakes, and it didn’t help that Towson’s first five games included meetings with Virginia, Maryland, Loyola and Bucknell -- all of which were ranked in the top 20. "Even the guys who started for us who were here a year ago, they hadn’t had a great deal of playing experience," Seaman said. "We needed to get through that time, and it just so happened that our schedule was toughest at the beginning of the year. That kind of adds to the problems. I thought our major success story was that we got better later on. There was a great deal of improvement throughout the whole team." ... The Tigers fell in two overtimes to Johns Hopkins, squandered a three-goal lead in the fourth quarter against Hofstra, and couldn’t muster a last-second rally against Villanova. "I think one of my major wishes was that we could add about a minute to every game," Seaman said. "It turns out to be an under-.500 year, but those three could have changed everything for us."

PREVIEW

Personnel changes: Towson graduates three of its top four scorers, including attackman Bill McCutcheon (23 goals and 15 assists) and midfielders Justin Schneider (12, 15) and Randall Cooper (12, 13). But a starting attack that could include sophomore Tim Stratton (16, 8) and freshmen Matt Lamon (4, 8) and Sean Maguire (9, 1) looks promising. ... The defense graduates close defenseman Matt Richter and short-stick midfielder Kyle Smedley, but Landy will slide into Richter’s position and freshmen Kevin Lalley and Ian Mills are candidates to replace Smedley. ... Mills is also expected to succeed faceoff specialist Mitchell Rosensweig, and he could get some help from freshmen Andrew Poulos and Matt Thomas. "We might have -- for the first time in a long time -- a faceoff by committee," Seaman said. "I think all three of them are so good and so close to each other that it really gives us some variety."

Outlook for 2010: Promising. A solid defense could be even stronger with an incoming recruiting class that includes Under Armour All-American John Fennessy of Yorktown, N.Y., and Ben Strauss of Lynbrook, N.Y. The biggest question is finding a productive midfield that can alleviate some of the pressure off the attack. A trio of juniors in Will Harrington (23, 3), Brock Armour (8, 8) and Pat Britton (14, 0) will likely start, but the development of a second line is crucial. If Towson can mine the necessary depth, it could challenge for the title in a newly revamped CAA that replaces outgoing members Villanova, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart with Massachusetts and Penn State.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:20 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Review & preview, Towson
        

May 26, 2009

ESPN to re-air Syracuse-Cornell championship final Tuesday night

The self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports has declared Syracuse's 10-9 overtime win against Cornell in Monday's NCAA tournament final an instant classic. Thusly, ESPN will re-broadcast the title game on ESPN Classic tonight at 7 p.m.

The network will also re-air the contest on ESPNU on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and next Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:37 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Review & preview: Mount St. Mary's

In an effort to sum up the 2009 season and add a pinch of anticipation for the 2010 campaign, this space will periodically check in with the seven Division I programs in the state to provide a glimpse of the past and the future. Today, we kick off the series with Mount St. Mary’s.

REVIEW

The good: The Mountaineers were anchored by a strong defense, and the leader of that unit was sophomore goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo. The Bowie native and Archbishop Spalding product ranked sixth in the country with a .609 save percentage and 10th with a 7.81 goals-against average. A first-team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference selection, DiBartolo was joined by Matt Nealis on the first team. The junior defenseman was tied for the team lead in caused turnovers with 14. "The strength was our goaltending and our defense," coach Tom Gravante said. … Picked in the preseason to finish eighth in the conference, Mount St. Mary’s compiled a 5-3 record to capture the No. 2 seed in the MAAC tournament. Although the Mountaineers dropped a 5-3 decision to Manhattan in a tournament semifinal, Gravante was delighted with his team’s development. "We just wanted to get to the fourth spot," he said. "This young team learned how to deal with pressure."

The bad: As Gravante had accurately predicted in the preseason, a youthful offense struggled at times to find its groove and put the ball in the net. Mount St. Mary’s averaged less than 6 goals a game, and the team scored less than six goals in seven of 15 contests. Freshmen attackmen Cody Lehrer and Christian Kellett scored 15 and 13 goals, respectively, but after them, no other player scored more than eight times. "It’s not like we had upperclassmen returning who had both the experience that we needed or the points to go with it," Gravante said. "But we knew that going into the season." … Face-offs continue to be a concern. The face-off unit won just 43.1 percent this season, a decline from last year’s 44.2 winning percentage.

PREVIEW

Personnel changes: The Mountaineers return their six top point producers and two-thirds of their close defense. The entire starting attack of Kellett (13 goals and 14 assists), Lehrer (15, 9) and sophomore Mark Stapor (7, 4) is back as is fourth attackman Jonny Lefferts (4, 2). Geery Grant graduates from the midfield, but freshman Eric Ososki (4, 5) and junior Jim O’Shea (3, 3) provide some continuity. "The hope is that they don’t sit on this season," Gravante said. "They’ve got to want to grab a bigger piece of the pie." … On defense, Brendan Flanagan (a team-high 50 groundballs and 14 caused turnovers) will be sorely missed as the fifth-year senior graduates. But Nealis and starting junior Russell Moncure (25, 12) will patrol the area in front of DiBartolo, and sophomore Andrew Miller is the front-runner to fill the third defenseman vacancy. Sophomore Justin Schmidt could be the team’s first long-stick midfielder. … The defense could be even stronger with an incoming recruiting class that includes John Anderson of St. Mary’s and Keith Ziemba of Loyola. "We’re very happy with those prospects," Gravante said.

Outlook for 2010: Not bad. Mount St. Mary’s returns 88.8 percent of its goal scoring, and assuming that the players take Gravante’s instructions to heart, this team could challenge conference rivals like Siena and Canisius for the MAAC championship on an annual basis. "I think the foundation has been established," Gravante said. "It’s a re-loading process, and I’m very, very excited. But I hold my excitement because you’re relying on 18-, 20-, 22-year-old young men, and you’re hoping you get through to them, especially during summer when they really need to develop their games."

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's, Review & preview
        

May 25, 2009

A conversation with Phil Buttafuoco, executive director of 2008 and 2009 men’s lacrosse championships

Phil Buttafuoco, executive director of 2008 and 2009 men’s lacrosse championships, spoke before Monday's NCAA Division I tournament final between Cornell and Syracuse. Here is a partial transcript of his comments:

On the low turnout for Saturday’s semifinals: "There’s no question that people look at that finite number. I’ve been the one that’s really been on the front lines, going to all the youth events, the coaches’ clinics, camps and tournaments throughout the year. So I’ve got a real good feel for a lot of the people and where they were at with the economy taking a dive in the last eight months. Clearly, fans around the country made decisions not to come to New England. The number of people from Wisconsin, for instance, is almost half of what it was last year. The number from California and Texas and from around the country and even internationally, there are less people here from Canada than they were last year. People have made decisions based on their own personal situations, and you see that even the Preakness was down 30 percent last week. Major League baseball is off. So you’re seeing it around the country in various sporting events that attendance has been affected and for a number of different reasons. But certainly, the economy is the leading reason right now."

On the absence of a Maryland-based team contributing to the low attendance: "When you look at the two teams in Cornell and Syracuse, you’re sharing a very similar fan base. If there was another team from two different population bases, would the crowd have been different on Saturday? Potentially, it would have been. We had four teams within 50 miles from each other in upstate New York [Division I's Cornell and Syracuse, Division II's LeMoyne and Division III's Cortland]. You can’t go after different youth groups because they’re supportive of the same [teams]. So I think a Baltimore team certainly brings a different audience, whether it be Hopkins or Maryland or Towson or Navy. ... If Hofstra had won, you would’ve had a different fan base from Long Island. Or if Princeton had advanced beyond Cornell, you would have had [the] New Jersey fan base. Would that have helped us more than having Cornell here from strictly a crowd standpoint? Potentially, but you don’t know. At the end of the day, I’ve been hearing from fans across the country, and even from here, that they just could not afford to come this year from a family standpoint."

On the possibility of expansion on Division I level, which currently has 59 lacrosse programs: "The supply is certainly outgrowing the demand at the collegiate level. With the economy and Title IX, you still have two constraints that institutions need to evaluate as they consider what athletic programs they’re offering. I think you’ll continue to see Divisions II and III adding new programs."

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:43 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Cornell vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

The No. 5 seed Big Red (13-3) won three national crowns in their first three attempts (1971, 1976 and 1977), but have gone 0-3 since (1978, 1987 and 1988). Meanwhile, the Orange (15-2) is 10-5 in title games, including 4-2 since John Desko succeeded Roy Simmons Jr. as head coach after the 1998 season. Here are three developments that could determine the outcome of Monday’s NCAA tournament final at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

1) The Syracuse players and coaches are fond of saying that there are 10 players capable of exploding offensively, but senior attackman Kenny Nims is clearly the team’s quarterback. He has scored a goal in 15 contests, but he has recorded at least two assists in seven of the last eight games. The guess here is that Nims will draw the attention of Cornell senior defenseman Matt Moyer, who did a yeoman-like effort against Virginia senior attackman Danny Glading (two goals and one assist) in the semifinals.

2) By the same token, the Big Red offense relies on Rob Pannell to set the pace. The freshman attackman ranks third on the team in goals with 24, but his most significant contribution is as a feeder, where he leads the team in assists with 41. Pannell’s ability to circulate behind the net forces opposing defenses to slide closer to the net, thereby opening the top of the offensive zone for senior midfielders Max Seibald (26, 10), John Glynn (20, 8) and Rocco Romero (16, 11). Pannell could get a heavy dose of Orange senior defenseman Sid Smith, who handcuffed Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty to just two assists in the semifinals.

3) The other significant match-up involves the goalies. Syracuse sophomore John Galloway looked solid against the Blue Devils, but he can slip into a lull and let him in some goals that he would normally save. Cornell senior Jake Myers has been similarly sturdy, but he’s started just the last eight contests after groin surgery and he was the losing goalkeeper in the regular-season meeting between these teams on April 7.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch
        

May 24, 2009

A closer look at the low attendance figures

I had a chance to talk with Tim Pavlechko, who chairs the NCAA lacrosse committee, about the surprisingly low turnout at Saturday’s semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The announced attendance of 36,594 was the smallest since the NCAA moved the final four to professional venues after the 2002 season and was a marked departure from last season’s first visit to the Boston area, when 48,224 showed up for the semifinals.

At the risk of sounding like an economic analyst, Pavlechko speculated that the current economic climate affected interest in the final four.

"I think families have tough choices, and we’re all making those choices this year," he said. "I think it does have an impact. … If you look at the Preakness and the Indianapolis 500 and all that, you’re like, ‘Oh, everything’s down a little bit.’ Our fan base is composed of a lot of families. … Attendance figures aren’t the only indicator. Certainly, attendance figures are important to us, and we want fans to support this sport. So we’re looking into how we can take this sport to the next level."

A little later, Pavlechko added, "We’ve had five years in a row of raising the bar, and there were things outside of our control. I wasn’t going to sit there and go, ‘Oh, geez.’ Look at the experience those kids had. You saw those Cornell kids. You think they cared that there were 4,000 less people than before? They’re ready to play for a national championship. We know their alums are coming, and at the end of the weekend, I hope we can look back and say, ‘Boston made a huge commitment to us, they held two successful championships, and now we’re onto the next stage.’"

Finally, I asked Pavlechko if the selection committee – which was the target of some criticism earlier this month – felt validated after four of the top five seeds qualified for championship weekend.

Pavlechko chuckled and shook his head as if to deflect any credit. "At the end of the day when we left our selection committee meeting, we knew that based on our selection criteria, we felt very comfortable with the teams that were selected," he said. "Once you get to that point, anything can happen."

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:59 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Quotes from Cornell news conference

Big Red coach Jeff Tambroni, senior attackman Chris Finn and senior midfielder Rocco Romero spoke to the media at 11:30 a.m. on the eve of Monday’s Division I NCAA tournament final against Syracuse at 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Here is a partial transcript of the news conference.

Tambroni on whether it’s important to get an early lead against the Orange: "I think confidence plays a factor in that if you can get up early, like you saw yesterday, our guys played with a lot of poise. But I don’t get the sense that if we go down by three goals with the group that we have, there’s going to be a lack of confidence or a panic button. It’s going to be important, but more important is going to be our guys’ ability to commit to 60 minutes of lacrosse and just play with poise throughout – whether we’re up by three or down by three."

Tambroni on getting a rematch against a regular-season opponent for the third consecutive game: "In terms of preparation, it helps a great deal, but it’s not an advantage or disadvantage. Both teams do what they do in terms of scouting reports and film breakdown. We were hopeful that we were going to have a chance to move on and compete. The good thing is we got a chance to play all three of these teams that were in the final four, so we had scouting reports and film on all of them. You’ve got to refresh what you kind of knew and what you did in the regular season. But I think we’re going to have to be the team that adjusts knowing that we lost by five goals during the regular season, with [Syracuse adding junior attackman] Cody Jamieson, and they seem to be playing very well. … But by the same token, I believe in our guys at this point. They’ve proven our entire coaching staff and each other right that if you give these guys the freedom to play the way they’re capable of, they were going to have a chance."

Romero on the Big Red’s share-the-wealth philosophy on offense: "I think what’s great is when [senior midfielder Max Seibald] is drawing the best guys, guys are stepping up and filling it up. You’ve got guys on the second midfield who are making plays, and the attack is coming along. For us as an offense, there’s no one individual matchup. It’s a team effort. We’re just trying to play six-on-six."

Tambroni on how the regular-season loss to Syracuse on April 7 affected the team: "It probably was the turning point. Back in 2007, we got to the point where we felt like we needed to start running in order to compete against these kinds of teams that are competing in the final four and have won national championships. And then I felt like we kind of got away from who we were in 2008 and in the beginning of 2009. We really felt like we kind of shot ourselves in the foot against Syracuse. We were actually talking about it this morning at breakfast with Rocco and Chris that we gave up a lot of easy possessions. But I think this is [an Orange] team that creates a ton of transition for both teams, and you have to take what they give you. So I think if we get transition, we’ve got to put our foot on the gas and run a little bit and take the opportunities that we get."

Finn on how confident the team that it can control the pace of play against the Orange: "I think in the second quarter of that Syracuse game, we had the ball for maybe a minute and 30 seconds. That kind of showed our attack unit that it’s our job to control the pace. We just weren’t doing a good job. So we practice and no matter what drill it’s been, we take so much more of a focused look at how we’re doing at controlling the pace of the game. I think if we can focus on that tomorrow, we’ll have a good chance to win again."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:06 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Quotes from Syracuse news conference

Orange coach John Desko, senior attackman Kenny Nims and senior midfielder Matt Abbot spoke to the media at 11 a.m. on the eve of Monday's Division I NCAA tournament final against Cornell at 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Here is a partial transcript of the news conference.

Desko on whether he was surprised by Cornell’s performance against Virginia: "I think right after our game [on April 7], they showed a lot of character, too. All of a sudden, we look up and it’s 12-10 and it’s anybody’s game. And then we were fortunate and pulled a few out there in the end. But I think after our game, I’ve seen a little bit of a change in them. They really value their possessions, they’re playing great team defense, they’re really sliding well and recovering. And [senior goalkeeper] Jake [Myers is] making some good saves in the goal for them, which makes them even tougher. So I think they’re playing really well. I think their senior group has really gotten them there and is really leading them, and they’re playing extremely well, and we’ve got to be ready for everything they do."

Desko on whether the Orange have an advantage against Myers, who spent his freshman and sophomore years with Syracuse before transferring to Cornell after the 2006 season: "I think we’re both different. I think Jake’s different than he was when he was at Syracuse. He’s a starter there – for two years now. He’s seen a lot of lacrosse. I think anyone will tell you that it’s one thing to work hard in practice, but that game experience is huge, and he’s got a lot of it now, and look what he’s done. He’s brought this team back to the national championship game. So he’s got to be playing with a lot of confidence. I’m sure knowing our guys makes him be more confident. He’s more familiar with us."

Desko on whether he wishes Myers had stayed with the Orange: "He was great for the, team, but I think he did what was best for him. You see where we are in the goal, and we’re pretty happy with our guys. I think for him to leave and go there and have a chance to play – which is what he wanted to do – he’s succeeded in that. So we’re happy for him."

Desko on rivalry with the Big Red: "I think it has been kind of a renewed rivalry. I think year ago, the reason why we put them on a Tuesday was that it wasn’t as competitive as it used to be. And now, Jeff’s brought them right back and we ought to be thinking about getting that game back on a Saturday."

Abbott on matching up with Cornell senior midfielder Max Seibald, a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist himself: "Should be interesting tomorrow. I won’t be matched up defensively against him. We’ll most likely have the long pole on him, but he’s a great player, and we’re definitely going to have to stop him to be able to be successful tomorrow."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:07 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Dilemma for the Tewaaraton

The race for the Tewaaraton Trophy, lacrosse’s version of the Heisman, was thrown for a loop with Saturday’s losses by Duke and Virginia.

Why? Because that would seem to take Blue Devils senior attackman Ned Crotty and Cavaliers senior attackman Danny Glading out of the equation for the Tewaaraton. Since 2001, only two players whose teams did not capture the national title have claimed the Tewaaraton, and Matt Danowski propelled Duke to the championship final in 2007.

So where does that leave the Tewaaraton? Crotty still might have say in the final voting. He still leads the country in points with 78, and his 55 assists rank second on the Blue Devils’ all-time list. And Hofstra midfielder Doug Shanahan took home the Tewaaraton even though his Pride team lost to Syracuse in the 2001 quarterfinals.

So we’re probably looking at the two finalists still playing in Monday’s title game.

If Cornell pulls off another upset, senior midfielder Max Seibald would seem to be a shoo-in for the award considering what he has done for the Big Red program in his four years there.

If Syracuse becomes the first repeat champion since Princeton won three consecutive crowns between 1996 and 1998, senior midfielder Matt Abbott probably has a good shot just because of his overall versatility. But if senior attackman Kenny Nims explodes as he did in Saturday’s semifinal against the Blue Devils, expect a fair amount of outcry over Nims’ omission from the list of finalists.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:16 AM | | Comments (0)
        

May 23, 2009

Postscript from Cornell vs. Virginia

After scoring 37 goals in wins against Johns Hopkins and Villanova, the Cavaliers boasted the most prolific offense in the country.

But the Big Red stood tall, holding Virginia to more than seven goals below its season average in Saturday’s 15-6 victory in the NCAA tournament semifinal at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

One of the keys was a quick-slide package centered on forcing the ball out of the sticks of Cavaliers senior attackman Danny Glading and the sophomore midfield duo of Shamel and Rhamel Bratton. Every time one of those players touched the ball, they were double-teamed and harassed into passing the ball to a teammate.

"They did slide to us early today, and they played completely different the first time we played them," Glading said, referring to Virginia’s 14-10 victory over Cornell on March 8. "We didn’t necessarily think they were going to play the same way as they did earlier in the season, but they were quick to go today."

Glading registered two goals and one assist against Big Red senior defenseman Matt Moyer, but Shamel Bratton, who scored five goals in the quarterfinal win against Johns Hopkins, scored just once and Rhamel Bratton was shut out.

"We just basically said that we were going to slide to him," said junior long-stick midfielder Pierce Derkac, who paired with junior Andrew MacDonald to handcuff Shamel Bratton. "Even when I was in good position, we said we were going to go. Especially him, his brother and Danny Glading, we were saying, ‘Just go and go early and set the tone that we’re going to be coming to these guys.’ I think that put a [hiccup] into their offense."

Other notes:

*Tasked with trying to beat that Cavaliers offense, Cornell knew it had to strike quickly and it did, scoring the game’s first three goals and six of the first seven.

"We talked about believing with our guys," Big Red coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We heard a lot from the media about how we weren’t supposed to win this game, and I think by starting strong early, our players could believe in themselves and play at such a high level."

*Cornell’s starting attack combined for nine goals and four assists. Freshman attackman Rob Pannell led all scorers with six points on three goals and three assists. Junior attackman Ryan Hurley added three goals and one assist, and senior attackman Chris Finn scored three times.

Virginia coach Dom Starsia said he thought his defense was too preoccupied with keeping an eye on the senior midfield duo of Max Seibald and John Glynn.

"A lot emanates from the fact that Glynn and Seibald can kind of soften you up front," Starsia said. "So you get caught kind of eyeballing those guys for just a little too long and Hurley and Pannell and those guys could find seams behind our defensemen as we were getting ready to try to help against those middies."

*Eager for a rematch with the Cavaliers, the Big Red get another crack at Syracuse, which defeated Cornell, 15-10 on April 7.

"We asked our guys to remain focused and to enjoy it for a little while when they see their families," Tambroni said. "But when we get back on the bus and get back to the hotel, I’m hoping that our staff and our team will get right back on board and prepare for Syracuse. We know how good Syracuse is based on its performance this afternoon."

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Postscript
        

Postscript from Duke vs. Syracuse

Guys like senior attackman Kenny Nims (27 goals and 41 assists) and sophomore attackman Stephen Keough (47, 6) get a lot of attention from opposing defenses and for good reason.

But the No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Orange demonstrated that their offense is multi-faceted as nine different players scored a goal and 11 different players recorded a point in Saturday’s 17-7 thumping of No. 3 seed Duke in a NCAA tournament semifinal at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday.

Senior midfielder Pat Perritt surpassed his previous career high with four goals, and it was the first time he had notched a hat trick this season. Freshman attackman Tim Desko, the son of Syracuse coach John Desko, scored twice, and senior faceoff specialist Jake Moulton and sophomore long-stick midfielder Joel White each added a goal.

"I think it’s just the fact that we’re so deep," Nims said of the offense’s potential to explode. "We have about 10 guys who are capable of putting up big numbers. Any given day, someone can have a huge day. That’s been the story of our season pretty much all year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone new stepped up and had a huge game on Monday."

Other notes:

*Perritt revealed what may have been the world’s worst secret when he acknowledged that the Orange have given thought to becoming the first repeat champion since Princeton won three consecutive titles between 1996-98.

"It would be great," he said. "It would mean a lot to the program, to myself, and to the rest of my teammates. That’s our goal right now, and we’re looking forward to seeing who we’ll play after this next game."

*Syracuse got a huge lift from its faceoff unit. Moulton and junior Gavin Jenkinson won 17 of 26 as the Orange finished with 18 of 28 faceoffs. That was pretty surprising considering that the Blue Devils had won more than 54 percent of their faceoffs this season.

"To give our offense that many opportunities didn’t hurt us at all," Desko said.

*Orange senior defenseman Sid Smith limited Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty, who led the nation in points with 76 and assists with 53, to just two assists in the first quarter and nothing the rest of the game.

And although Blue Devils coach John Danowski declined to single out that matchup, junior attackman Max Quinzani acknowledged that Smith’s ability to take Crotty out of play had an impact on the way Duke ran its half-field offense.

"The pressure kept on going," Quinzani said. "We couldn’t get the ball up to Ned up top. We like to get him dodging. And then I think they laid off on the pressure, but we didn’t have long enough possessions to even see what they were doing. That’s a testament to their faceoff game, their possessions on the offensive side."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Postscript
        

Stevenson's Greg Furshman named MVP of North-South game

Senior Greg Furshman earned Most Valuable Player honors at the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division III North-South game Friday at Harvard Stadium in Boston. The midfielder registered five points on three goals and two assists.

Overall, it was a pretty good day to be a Mustang. In addition to Furshman, senior midfielder Nicola Bevacqua posted one goal and two assists, and senior defenseman Mike Simon finished with three takeaways. (Thanks to Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene for updating me with the news.)

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson
        

May 22, 2009

Cornell vs. Virginia: Three things to watch

The No. 1 seed Cavaliers (15-2) are just 9-11 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, but they are 2-2 in their last four trips to the Final Four. The No. 5 seed Big Red (12-3) is 6-4 in the semifinals, but their last victory over Virginia occurred in 1988. Here are three developments that could determine the outcome of Saturday’s semifinal at 2:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

1) A lot can be gleaned from these teams’ regular-season meeting back on March 8 when the Cavaliers won, 14-10. Perhaps the biggest question is whether Cornell can replicate its defensive effort against Princeton in the quarterfinals against Virginia. Senior defenseman Matt Moyer, a first team All American, limited Cavaliers senior attackman Danny Glading, another first team All American, to a single assist, but the midfield accounted for 10 goals. So it will be incumbent on defensive players like long-stick midfielder Pierce Derkac and short-stick midfielders Austin Boykin and Roy Lang to hold their own against a Virginia offense that has scored 37 goals in two tournament games.

2) In a similar vein, the Big Red offense must find a way to score goals. Cornell actually held a 7-6 lead at halftime, but scored just one goal in a pivotal third quarter in which the Cavaliers scored four. Virginia’s defense likes to use its speed and stickwork to extend out and force turnovers, but if the Big Red can remain patient, they might be able to exploit the exposed areas. Another footnote is that senior midfielder and first team All American Max Seibald must gain the upper hand in his match-up with Cavaliers senior long-stick midfielder Mike Timms, who held Seibald to a single goal in March.

3) Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Jake Myers did not play in that regular-season meeting due to injury and senior Kyle Harer made just four saves. Myers isn’t spectacular, but he is regarded as a steady player who generally makes the saves he should make. On the other side of the field, sophomore Adam Ghitelman seems much improved from last year when he was relegated to the bench in favor of Bud Petit. Ghitelman made some critical saves early in the quarterfinal rout of No. 8 seed Johns Hopkins, and he will need to be on his game again if Virginia wants to reach the final.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch
        

Guess who the hottest team in the tournament is?

Virginia has scored the most goals in the NCAA tournament and Syracuse has surrendered the fewest. But the No. 3 seed Blue Devils are the hottest team, having won their last nine contests and 13 of the past 14 games.

Duke hasn’t lost since March 17 when Cornell left Durham, N.C., with a 10-6 victory, and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Ned Crotty said each win has been a shot of adrenaline for the team.

"Every game I think we get better," said the senior attackman, who recently told Insidelacrosse.com that he will return for a fifth year of eligibility. "I think if you look back from the losses to Maryland and Cornell up to now, we’re a totally different team. We’re constantly learning after the previous games, and I think that’s been one of our biggest building blocks here. We’re constantly trying to build off of our previous mistakes. I think we’ve grown from each game."

Saturday’s semifinal against Syracuse pits two teams that love to run and create scoring opportunities in unsettled situations. But the Orange is equally as adept in a half-field set, which puts the onus on the Blue Devils’ defense.

"We’ve been working very hard on our defense and people have accepted their roles," sophomore defenseman Mike Manley said. "It was really after the Cornell game where we looked at each other and said, ‘Listen, we’ve got to start doing this for each other. We’ve got to start having some fun.’ Guys started accepting their roles, and now we’re playing together. ... Do we think we’re a good defense? Yeah, we definitely think we’re a good defense, but we have to back that up."

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
        

ESPN's Mark Dixon evaluates the NCAA tournament

While offering his expertise for Saturday’s story on Duke’s lacrosse team, ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon took a shot at summarizing the NCAA tournament quarterfinal action and taking a peek at championship weekend. Here are his thoughts:

Which team or individual had the most impressive performance in the quarterfinals?

Mark Dixon: For a team, I think you’re looking at Virginia, and I think everybody was really taken aback by [sophomore midfielder] Shamel Bratton. With his quickness and his shooting ability, you just can’t cover the guy. You’re going to need help, but the problem is, he’s so fast. He had that one move from goal-line extended against Hopkins where he faked outside and just face-dodged in, and his defender lunged two yards in the direction that Bratton had faked, and by the time he got to the front of the crease, there was no slide. I was also impressed with [sophomore goalkeeper Adam] Ghitelman making some saves, especially early when Hopkins was up 1-0 and controlling the faceoffs. They had an opportunity to score two or three more goals, but Ghitelman made some saves. But to me, Bratton was the one who stood out with his individual performance.

Which team or individual fell short of expectations?

MD: I think it’s really easy to say that [North Carolina sophomore attackman] Billy Bitter fell short of expectations, but how can you follow up an eight-goal game? That’s really difficult. So I don’t think he was as disappointing as some people might be led to believe. He still created a lot, drew a lot of attention, but [Duke sophomore defenseman] Mike Manley just did a great job against him. Maybe Princeton. A lot of people thought that Princeton was going to win against Cornell. They threw the ball away a lot, made a lot of turnovers, but you have to give a lot of credit to Cornell as well. They executed their game plan -- again -- almost to perfection. But a lot of people were saying that they couldn’t beat Princeton twice. So I think some folks were surprised -- not that Princeton lost but that Cornell was able to do the same thing they did to them back in April.

Of the four Tewaaraton Trophy finalists still playing in the tournament, which player among Syracuse senior midfielder Matt Abbott, Duke senior attackman Ned Crotty, Virginia senior attackman Danny Glading and Cornell senior midfielder Max Seibald has the edge to win the Player of the Year honor?

MD: I think when you look at it, it’s probably between Glading and Crotty. I think those are the two that probably have the inside track. But don’t count out Seibald because what he does and him being the sole captain for Cornell can’t be quantified on a stat sheet. Just the way he hustles and his leadership and other things like that. With that being said, I think right now, it’s between Crotty and Glading, and quite frankly, whoever has the better weekend between those two is probably going to walk away with it.

Which team will win the crown?

MD: I’m going with Virginia. I just think that way because of how they’re playing offensively right now. The defense has been good against Hopkins and Villanova, but they’re going to really be tested in the national championship game should they advance -- which I think they will. I just think they’ve got too much firepower for Cornell. I think Syracuse wins the other game. What’s amazing is that Syracuse is doing it again, and not a lot of people are talking about them. They’re quietly winning games and putting it together. But I’m looking at a Virginia-Syracuse final, and I just think Virginia is going to win.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:20 AM | | Comments (0)
        

May 21, 2009

Virginia finding its rhythm at the right time

Friday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun will include a feature on Cavaliers junior midfielder Brian Carroll, who is part of an offensive juggernaut that has helped Virginia outscore Johns Hopkins and Villanova by a combined 37-14 in the NCAA tournament.

The explosion has muted the whispers about the Cavaliers’ season-ending stretch of two losses in the final three games – both to Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke – but coach Dom Starsia acknowledged that even he has been surprised by his team’s performance.

"There was a little different edge in practice, but you don’t always know how that’s going to play out," he said. "And I don’t think anybody saw this coming, particularly in the last game against Hopkins. ... I would say we were relentless in our approach to it. And even though Hopkins carried the play in the first couple of minutes by winning the first couple of faceoffs and getting some shots and keeping the heat on us a little bit, it seemed like we got every ground ball and just kept attacking the goal and did what we needed to do. If we continue to do this, we’ve picked a good time to play our best lacrosse."

Virginia gets a rematch with Cornell, which dropped a 14-10 decision to the Cavaliers on March 8. But Starsia said the team is not resting on that result.

"It’s do-or-die here," he said. "We have to be successful. We have to persevere here no matter what advantage Cornell may have or Hopkins may have had because we happened to beat them the first time around. At this time in the season, more often than not, we’re playing somebody that we played earlier. So whether we beat them or lost to them back in February, March or April, we need to figure out a way to beat them right now or we’re not going to be able to achieve that goals that we have in mind."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:44 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Division I All-American teams announced

The All-American teams for Division I have been released and the area’s lone representative on the first team is Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Michael Evans. Evans is joined by fellow defensemen Ken Clausen of Virginia (his second selection) and Matt Moyer of Cornell.

Cornell midfielder Max Seibald makes his third consecutive appearance on the first team, joining a group that includes Matt Abbott of Syracuse, Shamel Bratton of Virginia and Mark Kovler of Princeton.

The attackmen are Billy Bitter of North Carolina, Brandon Corp of Colgate, Ned Crotty of Duke, Danny Glading of Virginia and Kenny Nims of Syracuse. The goalie is Jordan Burke of Brown.

The second team boasts UMBC senior midfielder Peet Poillon, Johns Hopkins junior midfielder Michael Kimmel and Maryland sophomore attackman Ryan Young. Also, Ben Hunt, an Arnold native and Severna Park graduate, made the team as a senior attackman for North Carolina.

Johns Hopkins senior midfielder Brian Christopher and Maryland sophomore defenseman Max Schmidt earned spots on the third team. They were joined by Notre Dame senior attackman Ryan Hoff (Baldwin native and Dulaney graduate) and Virginia junior midfielder Brian Carroll (Baltimore, Gilman).

The honorable mention list boasts an attack group that includes Johns Hopkins junior Steven Boyle, Maryland sophomore Grant Catalino, Loyola senior Shane Koppens, Navy junior Tim Paul and Johns Hopkins sophomore Kyle Wharton.

The midfield is populated by Maryland senior Dan Groot, UMBC senior Alex Hopmann, Notre Dame junior Grant Krebs (Annapolis, St. Mary’s), Loyola senior P.T. Ricci, North Carolina senior Shane Walterhoefer (Ellicott City, Boys’ Latin) and UMBC junior Kyle Wimer.

The defense includes Brown sophomore Peter Fallon (Baltimore, Gilman) and Navy senior Andy Tormey.

The goalkeepers are, among others, UMBC senior Jeremy Blevins and Princeton freshman Tyler Fiorito (Phoenix, McDonogh).

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

Stevenson's Kazimer and Washington's Cohen earn national awards

In my haste to mention Salisbury’s Kylor Berkman winning his third consecutive Midfielder of the Year award, I neglected to also single out Stevenson’s Steve Kazimer and Washington’s Gordon Cohen for being named the Division III Attackman and Goalie of the Year, respectively.

Kazimer, a junior for a top-ranked Mustangs squad that advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals for the first time in school history, paced Stevenson with a team-high 69 points on 33 goals and 36 assists. In just two seasons, Kazimer has posted 152 points on 70 goals and 82 assists.

Cohen, a senior for the Shoremen, finished the season ranked sixth in the country in save percentage (.631) and 17th in goals-against average (7.20). Earlier, Cohen became the first Washington goalie in 11 years to be named to the All-American first team.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury, Washington
        

Navy and Towson resume long-awaited series

I just got off the phone with Towson coach Tony Seaman, who informed me that he and Navy coach Richie Meade have agreed to resume a short-lived series that probably should have gotten a longer run -- especially for area fans.

The Midshipmen last faced the Tigers on April 12, 1997 (a 14-6 victory for the Tigers), and Navy leads the series, 5-3.

There is, however, a price for Towson. The game against Navy will fall between contests against Maryland and Virginia, which makes for a tough stretch leading up to Colonial Athletic Association play.

"So we’ve got Maryland on Saturday, Navy on Tuesday night, and Virginia on Saturday," Seaman said in what sounded like an am-I-crazy-or-what chuckle. "I’ve been wanting to play Navy since I’ve been here, and I think it’s a game we should have, and they thought it was a great opportunity, too. ... I just thought that’s a game we should play -- even though it’s suicide."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:33 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Navy, Towson
        

Duke vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

The No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Orange (14-2) are seeking their 16th trip to the national title game in 26 attempts -- including their third NCAA tournament final since 2004. Meanwhile, the No. 3 seed Blue Devils (15-3) are trying to reach their second championship final in three years. Here are three developments that could determine the outcome of Saturday’s semifinal at noon at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

1.) It’s clear that the Syracuse and Duke offenses run through their respective excellent attackmen in Kenny Nims and Ned Crotty. So which quarterback will help his offense put up some points? Nims is a fantastic dodger who can score with either hand. Crotty is a field general with tremendous vision. I would guess that Nims would be shadowed by Blue Devils sophomore defenseman Mike Manley, who limited North Carolina sophomore attackman Billy Bitter to just two assists after he blistered UMBC for eight goals in the first round. Crotty could see a lot of Orange senior defenseman Sid Smith, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sophomore defenseman John Lade got the call. He has the speed to keep up with Crotty.

2.) Championship teams usually ride a hot goalie to nirvana. So will it be Duke senior Rob Schroeder or Syracuse sophomore John Galloway? Schroeder has looked shaky at times, but he seems to have settled down during the Blue Devils’ nine-game winning streak. Galloway is much improved from last season when he was perhaps the weakest goalie in the Final Four. But he’s overcoming a flu that kept him out of last Saturday’s quarterfinal against Maryland. If Duke can apply pressure, how will Galloway respond?

3.) Possession will be key as each offense would love to have extended, multiple cracks at the opposing defenses. With that in mind, it would appear that the Blue Devils have the advantage at the face-off X, where senior Sam Payton and freshman C.J. Costabile have helped the team win more than 54 percent of the face-offs. I thought the Orange would falter in that department against the Terps’ Bryn Holmes, but the duo of senior Jake Moulton and junior Gavin Jenkinson won 11 of 21 face-offs. The matchup here should be intriguing.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch
        

May 20, 2009

CBS College Sports' Paul Carcaterra weighs in

While helping me with some stories this week, CBS College Sports analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra weighed in on NCAA tournament quarterfinal action and offered his opinion on which team will take home the national championship on Memorial Day. Here are his thoughts:

Which team or individual had the most impressive performance in the quarterfinals?

Paul Carcaterra: Shamel Bratton and Ned Crotty. I think Shamel Bratton [who scored five goals in Sunday’s 19-8 demolition of Johns Hopkins] created so much for his team because of his ability to separate himself from the defense. Johns Hopkins’ defense couldn’t guard him, and that opened up everything for his teammates. He really opened up the field for Virginia and just showed that when you have a guy up top from the midfield and he can dodge like that, that changes the complexion of the opposition’s defense. And Ned Crotty [who posted two goals and six assists in Sunday’s 12-11 win against North Carolina], I’d be shocked if he didn’t win the Tewaaraton based on what he’s been able to do in leading the country in assists. He’s just the ultimate team player, and he’s created an offensive situation for Duke where everyone gets involved.

Which team or individual fell short of expectations?

PC: I think coming off of an eight-goal performance against UMBC, the pressure was on Billy Bitter, and I think Duke defended him so aggressively that he really struggled. The chips were stacked against Bitter walking into that game against a physical Duke defense and with him being the only big-time dodging threat on UNC. He played with a tremendous X on his back. So I’m not sure if he fell short of expectations or if the chips were stacked up highly against him. I think Duke sort of threw the kitchen sink at him, and they physically went after him.

Since you mentioned Ned Crotty, can he still win the Tewaaraton if Duke does not win the national title?

PC: I think Ned Crotty wins the Tewaaraton unless Danny Glading plays incredibly this weekend and Virginia wins. Those two things have to happen for Ned Crotty not to win the Tewaaraton. I think he’s meant more to Duke than probably any other player to his team. I don’t ever like to say it’s about one guy, but he’s a huge reason why Duke is playing in this game. You had the loss of Matt Danowski and Zack Greer, the two most prolific scorers in NCAA history, and here comes Ned Crotty who switches from midfield to attack, leads the country in assists, and gives Duke an identity offensively. What else could you ask for? It’s truly remarkable what he has done. So I think it’s his to lose and the only other person that I could see winning it is Danny Glading with a monster performance and Virginia winning the national championship. I think Kenny Nims should have been on that list. I think he kind of got snubbed. Abbott probably deserves to be on that list, too, but I think Kenny Nims should have been on that list.

Which team will win the crown?

PC: I think it will be Syracuse. And I’m not saying this because I’m from Syracuse. I don’t pick Syracuse every year. I’m not ignorant. I just think they have six offensive midfielders and three exceptionally athletic defensive midfielders who can start offense from the other end, and I don’t see any other team with that combination. So I’m going with Syracuse.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:30 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Third time's the charm for Salisbury's Kylor Berkman

The Sea Gulls’ Kylor Berkman collected National Midfielder of the Year honors, becoming the first player to win the award three times and in three straight seasons.

Berkman separated himself from a group of two-time winners that includes Salisbury’s Andy Murray (2003-04) and Chris Turner (1999-2000), Nazareth’s Brent Rothfuss (1997-98) and Hobart’s Mark Darcangelo (1980, 1982).

Berkman, who was the Division III Player of the Year last season, ranked first among the Sea Gulls in points (83), assists (41) and man-up goals (11). He also finished third in goals (42) and fourth in ground balls (49). Berkman, who was named the Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, ended his career with 298 points and dished out 170 assists – both of which rank second all-time in program history.

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:46 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Salisbury
        

Syracuse's Rogers "at a crossroads"

When Insidelacrosse.com reported on the head coaching vacancies at Denver and Dartmouth earlier this month, several candidates for the positions were mentioned. The one name that came up for both Denver and Dartmouth was Lelan Rogers.

Rogers is the defensive coordinator for reigning national champion Syracuse, poised to become the first repeat champion since Princeton won three straight between 1996 and 1998. Rogers, who has head coaching experience with Division III programs Cortland and Ohio Wesleyan and Major Lacrosse League’s Chicago Machine, sounded conflicted about being a candidate for the Division I head coaching positions.

"Being a Division I head coach has always been a goal of mine, and I’ve always been a goal-oriented person," Rogers said earlier on Wednesday. "So to be honest with you, if it was the right situation, I would investigate it. On the other side of it, I’m as happy as you-know-what, and working here with the staff at Syracuse has been great. I could stay here forever, and my kids could grow up in central New York. I’m at a crossroads. I could go this way or I could go that way. I’ll cross that road when it happens, but right now, I’m in the best place in the world. It’d be a hard decision to leave, that’s for sure."

Rogers compiled a 76-17 record in five seasons at Cortland. But after the 2005 season, he was approached by Orange head coach John Desko to become the school’s director of lacrosse operations, which suited Rogers as he sought to diversify his resume with an eye on eventually becoming an athletic director.

The irony is that Rogers has suddenly become a Division I candidate not because of his overall career record of 185-50 at the Division III level, but because of his work with Syracuse’s defense. That may speak to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately culture, but it also sheds a light on the trepidation Division I schools may have about hiring Division III coaches.

There were five Division I coaching vacancies last year and three were filled by Division I assistant coaches (Ohio State promoted the Buckeyes’ Nick Myers, Fairfield hired Maryland’s Andrew Copelan, and Marist secured Brown’s Scott Nelson), one by a Division I head coach (North Carolina wooed Ohio State’s Joe Breschi) and one by a Division II coach (Hobart hired Limestone’s T.W. Johnson).

From his perspective, Rogers thinks the gulf between Division I and Division III lacrosse has widened and the days of Division I powers hiring Division III head coaches are fading.

"Years ago when I first started coaching at Ohio Wesleyan [in 1991], Dave Urick went from Hobart to Georgetown, Mike Pressler went from Ohio Wesleyan to Duke, and at that time lacrosse was still young enough that they would take very good Division III coach and move him up the ladder to Division I," Rogers said. "I don’t see that happening anymore. I think there are some great Division III coaches and I think they work extremely hard. But I think the difference between Division I and Division III is so much greater now that’s it’s really hard to be sold on a Division III guy and bring him into a Division I atmosphere. The recruiting is distinctly different, the rules and all that stuff."

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:50 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Syracuse's feet firmly planted on terra firma

The Orange is so close to accomplishing something that hasn’t been seen in the lacrosse community in more than 10 years: repeating as national champions.

Syracuse is two victories away from becoming the first repeat champion since Princeton won three straight between 1996-98. But while those outside of the Orange program may be discussing such a possibility, those on the inside are not.

"No, we really haven’t been talking about that," junior defenseman Matt Tierney said. "The slate’s clean, and we don’t really talk much about what happened last year because there’s no point in doing that when every year is a new year."

Tierney is part of a defense that has not been getting enough attention but will be profiled in Thursday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun. Tierney played a pivotal role in Syracuse’s 11-6 win against Maryland in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals last Saturday, holding junior attackman Will Yeatman without a point.

Not to be outdone, senior defenseman Sid Smith did the same thing to sophomore attackman Travis Reed. Smith also collected his first assist of the season on a pass to fellow defenseman Tyler Hlawati during a critical 5-0 run in the second half.

Smith said the coaches have given the defensemen the green light to carry the ball into the offensive zone and even take a shot, but he acknowledged being surprised by how much room the Terps gave him.

"I ran by the first guy near the midfield line, and it kind of opened up for me after that," Smith said.

Asked whether he thought about taking the shot, Smith laughed before saying, "I thought about it, but Tyler was wide open on the crease. I knew he had a better shot."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

May 19, 2009

Cornell enjoying run to final four

Wednesday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun will include a feature on Big Red senior midfielder and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Max Seibald, but Cornell’s run to the final four is somewhat surprising considering the injuries the team had to overcome.

Starting defensemen Nick Gradinger and Max Dorne missed the entire season with back injuries, senior midfielder Tommy Schmicker tore a knee ligament on March 17, and senior midfielder and faceoff specialist John Glynn has been playing despite a dislocated right elbow.

"Guys have carried the load, whether it’s big or small, and we have had some unfortunate situations due to injury this year, especially at the faceoff ‘X’ and the defensive end," coach Jeff Tambroni said. "But thankfully, guys have stepped up at the appropriate times and have been prepared to do so at the appropriate times, enabling us to kind of keep that momentum and have small successes along the way."

It also helps to have the leading candidate for Freshman of the Year on your squad. Attackman Rob Pannell ranks third in the country in assists (38) and eighth in points (59). But his value is not just limited to personal statistics, according to Tambroni.

"He sees the field so well, and he plays with such great maturity," Tambroni said. "Our other two attackmen, Chris Finn and Ryan Hurley, can really get comfortable and kind of settle into the roles that they’re most suited for. He’s also allowed our midfield – especially guys like Max Seibald and John Glynn – a little bit more freedom and room up top. Last year, I felt like defenses really pushed up top when the ball was behind, and they didn’t slide very often below the goal line, which made it very difficult for those middies up top. Now we feel like we have a little bit more of a presence back on the attack, which allows Max and John a little more freedom up top. So his impact is immeasurable."

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:56 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Area Division III players named All Americans

The USILA released its All American teams in Division III and a number of area players populate the list.

Stevenson, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1 and advanced to the school's first NCAA tournament semifinal, put attackmen Steve Kazimer and Jimmy Dailey on the first team. They were joined by Salisbury midfielder Kylor Berkman and Washington goalkeeper Gordon Cohen.

The Mustangs placed two more players on the second team: midfielder Nicola Bevacqua and defenseman Mike Simon. Salisbury defenseman Kevin Maynard was the only area representative on the third team.

The honorable mention list included Stevenson attackman Richie Ford and midfielder Greg Furshman, Salisbury attackman Matt Cannone and midfielder Mike Von Kamecke, Washington midfielder Thayer Damm, McDaniel midfielder Michael Hatton and St. Mary's midfielder Marc DiPasquale.

Update on Wednesday, May 20: I mistakenly left off St. Mary's midfielder Ryan Alexander from the All-American honorable mention list. Thanks to Seahawks sports information director Nairem Moran for pointing out the omission. My apologies to Ryan.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: McDaniel, Salisbury, St. Mary's, Stevenson, Washington
        

Classic Johns Hopkins, Syracuse game to air

For those who were too young or those who are feeling nostalgic, CBS College Sports is airing a documentary on the 1989 NCAA tournament final between Johns Hopkins and Syracuse this Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Titled "Legends: The 1989 NCAA Lacrosse Championship," the documentary revisits what is considered in some circles as the greatest lacrosse game ever when a Blue Jays team led by defenseman and current Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala and goalkeeper and current ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich challenged an Orange squad paced by Gary and Paul Gait.

The two teams, which had combined to capture eight of the previous 11 national titles, participated in a thrilling contest before a then-record crowd of 23,893 at Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland that wasn't over until the final seconds had elapsed.

CBS College Sports is available on channel 732 on Comcast and channel 152 on Dish.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins
        

May 18, 2009

Where art thou, Maryland?

This will be part of my lacrosse analysis in Tuesday's paper, but this weekend's final four at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., marks only the third time since the NCAA implemented a season-ending tournament to determine a national champion in 1971 that the state of Maryland will not be represented in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

The other years? 1994 when Syracuse, Virginia, Princeton and Brown advanced to the final four and 1988 when the Orange, Cavaliers, Cornell and Penn played on championship weekend.

Another footnote is that the NCAA announced that next year's quarterfinals will take place at Princeton and Stony Brook universities. The Long Island area proved that it could draw fan support when a crowd of 11,259 watched last Saturday's NCAA quarterfinal at Hofstra University -- which was the second-largest crowd to attend. Of course, having Syracuse, Cornell and Princeton playing at Hofstra may have helped.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:50 PM | | Comments (2)
        

ESPN's Jack Emmer reviews the tournament

Until last season, Jack Emmer was the NCAA’s all-time leader in coaching victories with 326 career wins. The former Army coach has been surpassed recently by Salisbury’s Jim Berkman and Gettysburg’s Hank Janczyk, but Emmer is still a faithful observer of lacrosse in his current role as an analyst for ESPN. Here are some of his thoughts on the quarterfinal round and upcoming semifinals:

What was the most impressive performance of the quarterfinals?

Jack Emmer: Virginia overwhelming Hopkins was very impressive. It’s hard to figure out Virginia. They went into the tournament not being the best team by far. Even though they were seeded first, they didn’t finish their season very well. And now they have stepped it up a bit. That was certainly impressive. I thought Duke would get the better of Carolina, but it was a close game. I was most impressed by the Princeton-Cornell game. I thought those were two heavyweight teams going at it. The intensity level – not just on defense, but all over the field – was absolutely incredible. I thought Princeton was very, very good, and Cornell beat a good team. Now, can Cornell come back and do that again against Virginia? That’s a tall order, but that was an impressive game.

Which team fell short of expectations?

Jack Emmer: I would think Maryland’s performance offensively would create a concern on Coach [Dave] Cottle’s part. Dave’s always been a good offensive coach, but they got six against Syracuse and seven against Notre Dame. They weren’t getting the offensive production, so I would think they have to take a hard look at the people they’re playing there and what they’re doing there. They’re probably going back to the drawing board.

With No. 1 seed Virginia, No. 2 seed Syracuse, No. 3 seed Duke and No. 5 Cornell advancing to the final four, are these the four teams you expected to see in the semifinals?

Jack Emmer: When you have a tournament like this, you usually find the better defensive teams tend to be there. So I thought Navy would do a better job than they did because they were pretty stingy, and that spoke to how well Duke was playing to beat Navy, 14-5, like they did. I thought Navy had a chance of advancing. I did think Hopkins would give Virginia a better game. But when you look at it, you’ve got the first, second, third and fifth seeds in there. So there’s not many surprises. I was very disappointed in Notre Dame. I’m sure they’re feeling that way in themselves. They were 15-0, and they didn’t play well at home after winning 25 games in a row. Didn’t play well out there and you would think a 15-0 team would make a run somewhere in that game, and they never did. As a fan , you’d love to see a Notre Dame or one of those not-as-traditional teams be there, but that hasn’t happened quite yet. I don’t think we’re too far away from that though.

With four of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Trophy in Virginia attackman Danny Glading, Syracuse midfielder Matt Abbott, Duke attackman Ned Crotty and Cornell midfielder Max Seibald in the semifinals, which player has the edge for the Tewaaraton?

Jack Emmer: I would say after the results so far, Crotty probably has the edge based on how he has played in the tournament. But I think the Tewaaraton award is going to be decided in this final four. How well is Max Seibald going to play? And he’s a terrific player just as Matt Abbott is. They’re similar. They do everything. They’re not your typical high scorers in the country. They’re respected for all the other things that they do.

The team that wins the championship will probably produce the Tewaaraton winner. But one guy that’s going to get overlooked here is Zack Greer because Zack doesn’t have the opportunity to play in the tournament. [Bryant is ineligible in its first season in Division I.] He’s the all-time NCAA leading scorer, and he took that Bryant team from absolute obscurity to having a pretty good year. But he’s probably not going to win the award. I think he probably should win the award. I think he may be the best player. But just because of a lack of exposure, that makes it tough on him.

Who will win the national title?

Jack Emmer: You’re going to put me on the spot here, huh? I think Syracuse is the best team. But I do think if Cornell can match that defense they played a week ago, they can give themselves a shot to beat Virginia and then have a rematch if Syracuse does beat Duke. But the Syracuse-Duke game is a fantastic game. That will be a one-goal game. But I think Syracuse is the best overall team. I think they have so many horses offensively that it’s hard to defend them, and they’re playing good defense. So I think they have an edge.

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:33 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Postscript from Gettysburg at Stevenson

The end of the Mustangs’ historic 2009 campaign – which included a program-record 17 wins, the school’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in any sport and the institution’s first appearance in a NCAA tournament semifinal – leads one to wonder: what’s in store for 2010?

Assuming that none of the current seniors on the roster have fifth years of eligibility remaining, Stevenson will bid farewell to its first midfield line of Nicola Bevacqua (31 goals and eight assists), Greg Furshman (23, 5) and Chris Baldwin (18, 10). The Mustangs will also graduate top close defenseman Mike Simon and long-stick midfielder Austin Hale.

But the cupboard is actually fuller than one might think. The team’s top-three scorers are underclassmen, and junior Steve Kazimer (33, 36), sophomore Jimmy Dailey (29, 37) and junior Richie Ford (42, 13) make up the starting attack.

Sophomores Evan Douglass and Ian Hart make up two-thirds of the close defenseman that will patrol the area in front of junior goalkeeper Geoff Hebert (7.04 goals-against average and .594 save percentage). Sophomore faceoff specialists Ray Witte (.542 percentage) and Joe Valderas (.589) will likely fill the void created by the departure of Furshman (.637).

Coach Paul Cantabene refused to let the 12-7 loss to No. 5 Gettysburg shape his team’s legacy.

"This team is a success," he insisted in his post-game comments after Sunday’s contest. "We changed a culture here at Stevenson. I told the guys in there that I’m proud of every single one of those guys. Not one guy let me down this season."

Ford said the objective next season is to advance further in the NCAA tournament. "Hopefully, we can just keep working and keep building it higher and get past this game," the Baltimore native and Towson graduate said. "Next year, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I think everybody’s willing to put in the time this summer to get where we want to be."

Other notes:

*Gettysburg tied a school record set in 2002 with its 14th consecutive victory. Surprisingly, Bullets coach Hank Janczyk credited part of the streak to the 16-6 thumping the team absorbed at the hands of the Mustangs on March 4, which put Gettysburg at 2-3.

"We were trying to do some things that weren’t successful, and we had to make a lot of changes," said Janczyk, who ranks second on the NCAA career coaching wins list with 331. (Salisbury’s Jim Berkman leads with 346 victories.) "The Stevenson game was a big part of that change. They just took it to us in that first game, and I think slowly and surely, our guys got better."

*In the regular-season meeting, Dailey blistered the Bullets for seven points on four goals and three assists. On Sunday, he was shut out for only the second time this season as he was shadowed by senior defenseman Yanni Peary.

"I knew exactly what he was going to do," said Peary, who held Dailey to one shot. "He wasn’t going to go to the cage. He was going to roll back and forth. … I felt I could match up pretty well against him."

Dailey was complimentary of Peary, saying, "I think he’s a pretty good defenseman."

Cantabene said Dailey was hampered by the dislocated right shoulder that limited him in Stevenson’s 11-9 win against Salisbury in the quarterfinals. "We probably played him when we shouldn’t have," Cantabene said. "He still gave a real gutsy effort."

*Furshman talked about playing against his younger brother Zach, who is the starting goalkeeper for Gettysburg.

"I had some mixed emotions," said Greg Furshman, who put three of his four shots on net but did not record a goal or assist on Sunday. "Part of me wants him not to get lit up too bad. ... He had a good day. I’ll probably be hearing about it at family reunions and stuff for a while."

Said Zach Furshman: "It’s definitely weird playing against your brother. You save a shot [of his], you’re happy about it, but you kind of feel bad about it."

To which Janczyk joked, "He can feel bad later."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Postscript, Stevenson
        

May 17, 2009

Postscript from Maryland vs. Syracuse

If junior Brian Phipps did indeed tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the first quarter of the Terps’ 11-6 loss to Syracuse in a NCAA tournament quarterfinal Saturday, this begs the question: who will start in the net when the 2010 season begins?

Surgery and rehabilitation for ACL injuries can take eight to 12 months with some athletes who have endured the procedure saying that they didn’t fully recover until 18 months had passed.

Phipps will most likely miss fall ball sessions later this year, and he could be 50-50 when Maryland’s season opens. Even if he does return by then, how effective will he be?

So who’s next? Jason Carter, who started eight games, isn’t an option because he will have graduated. Mark White, a sophomore who red-shirted this season, is on the roster and word is that he’s a talent-in-waiting. The Terps will also welcome incoming freshman Niko Amato from La Salle (Pa.), who was recently named to the Under Armour All-American Boys North team.

Update at 10:30 a.m.: Saw early Sunday morning that Phipps made ESPN’s SportsCenter – which wasn’t a good thing. ESPN compared his injury to, among others, when former Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte head-butted a wall during a game and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica tore his ACL after celebrating a successful field goal. To me, that appeared a little harsh because Frerotte and Gramatica were both professional athletes. Phipps, on the other hand, is an amateur playing a collegiate sport without making a paycheck from it.

Other notes:

* Syracuse coach John Desko isn’t sure whether sophomore goalie John Galloway (flu) will be available for the No. 2 seed and reigning national champion’s semifinal Saturday in Foxborough, Mass., but if Alex Cavalieri plays the way he did in Saturday’s 11-6 win against Maryland, the Orange may not have to worry.

The junior made 14 saves and more than a handful were of the point-blank variety. Cavalieri’s play in his first career start was of particular delight to Desko.

"It’s something that every coach tells somebody in Alex’s position, how important his position is," he said. "Sometimes these guys never get a chance to show it. So I think from a coaching standpoint, although you never want a player to get sick or hurt, for it to happen and for Alex to get a chance to perform, it kind of validates everything we’ve been talking about."

* Maryland had success running its big-little sets with sophomores Grant Catalino and Ryan Young in the second quarter, but coach Dave Cottle pointed out that the offense stalled because the unit tried to attack from behind the net in the second half when Syracuse made adjustments after halftime.

"What it did was it made us pretty one-dimensional," Cottle said. "We were doing it all from behind."

* The Terps had just two goalies – Phipps and Carter – on their roster. So what would have happened if Carter had drawn a penalty during Saturday’s contest and had to sit a spell?

"Then we would’ve had to put a middie in the goal," Cottle said with a smirk.

Asked whom that midfielder would have been, Cottle said it would have been junior Bryn Holmes. "He was told he was the third-string goalie in the middle of the second quarter," Cottle said.

* The Terps’ attack accounted for just one goal (freshman Joe Cummings) and two assists (sophomore Ryan Young). Junior Will Yeatman and sophomore Travis Reed were shut out. ... Maryland fell to 3-10 against the No. 2 seed. The Terps last beat a No. 2 seed in 1991 when they toppled Brown, 16-13. ... Syracuse is 26-2 in the quarterfinal round and has advanced to 25 consecutive final fours. The Orange’s last loss in the quarterfinals occurred in 1981 when Syracuse lost to North Carolina, 13-6.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland, Postscript
        

May 16, 2009

Gettysburg at Stevenson: Three things to watch

The Mustangs are in unfamiliar territory, having reached the NCAA tournament semifinals for the first time in program history. For a shot at either Cortland State or Middlebury in the championship final next Sunday, here are three factors Stevenson (17-1) must take advantage of in its semifinal game against Gettysburg (15-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Caves Athletic Complex in Owings Mills.

1.) Be physical on defense. According to my colleague Mike Preston, who covered the Mustangs’ 11-9 victory over two-time defending national champion Salisbury Wednesday, Stevenson’s defense "bodied up" the Sea Gulls. Long poles Mike Simon, Evan Douglass, Ian Hart and Austin Hale refused to let a player get in front of junior goalkeeper Geoff Hebert without enduring a few blows and a short-stick defensive group that included Chris Baldwin, Brett Yoder and Jake Stockdale flustered Salisbury by getting its sticks in the passing lanes. The Mustangs need to repeat that effort against a Bullets offense that has scored 28 goals in two tournament games.

2.) Apply pressure to Gettysburg senior goalie Zach Furshman. In the only regular-season meeting between these two teams, Stevenson racked up 14 goals on Furshman en route to a convincing 16-6 win on March 4. While the Mustangs outshot the Bullets, 44-36, the key was shot placement. Stevenson put 26 shots on net, which translates into a daunting 59.1 percent of its attempts. Furshman is an accomplished netminder, ranking ninth in the country with a 6.99 goals-against average. But if the Mustangs can maintain a high percentage of shots on goal, the physical and mental fortitude Furshman will have to exhibit could be too much.

3.) Beat Gettysburg to the punch. The Bullets remember how the Mustangs won the first meeting by scoring 10 straight goals after trailing, 2-1, early in the first quarter. Gettysburg would like to return the favor, but Stevenson must ride the wave of momentum from what should be a considerable pro-Mustangs crowd and put the Bullets in the hole early.

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:23 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Stevenson, Three things to watch
        

May 15, 2009

Johns Hopkins vs. Virginia: Three things to watch

Since Dave Pietramala took the head coaching reins from John Haus prior to the 2001 season, the Blue Jays are 19-6 in the NCAA tournament and have made six final four appearances. Here are three game developments that could be critical for Johns Hopkins (10-4), which tangles with Virginia (14-2) on Sunday at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

1) Shut off the interior. Since surrendering 30 goals in losses to Syracuse and Virginia, the Blue Jays have allowed 71 goals in their last eight contests. But the interior of the defense has been vulnerable, especially last Saturday when Brown scored its last six goals from the area in front of junior goalkeeper Michael Gvozden. After permitting 12 goals to the Cavaliers in the first half of the teams’ regular-season meeting on March 21, Johns Hopkins surrendered just four the rest of the way. Junior defenseman Sam DeVore said the key in that second half – and in every game – is cranking up the volume on defensive chatter. "We all need to be on the same page at the same time," he said. "We need to communicate well and help each other out when needed."

2) Take advantage of the short stick. Virginia must decide how to distribute its four long-pole defensemen among the Blue Jays’ top five scorers in attackmen Chris Boland, Kyle Wharton and Steven Boyle and midfielders Michael Kimmel and Brian Christopher. If the Cavaliers elect to assign a short-stick defensive midfielder on Wharton – who is dealing with an injured ankle – it will be up to Wharton and his teammates to make the defense pay for that decision.

3) Get a boost in the faceoff game. When these teams met in March, junior Michael Powers sat out with an injured right arm, and Virginia won 22 of 34 (64.7 percent) of the faceoffs. Powers, who has won 60.8 percent (48 of 79) of his faceoffs, should be able to help sophomore Matt Dolente (51.3 percent on 120 of 234) battle Cavaliers senior Chad Gaudet (55.9 percent, 165 of 295), who won 21 of 32 in the regular-season meeting. "The fact that Michael Powers can play gives us another opportunity to change it up on the faceoff guy that we’re facing and maybe knock him out of rhythm a little bit," Pietramala said. "Any time you go to a gunfight, you don’t want to go with just one gun. You want to bring two guns."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch
        

Maryland vs. Syracuse: Three things to watch

Since Dave Cottle succeeded Dick Edell as head coach prior to the 2002 season, the Terps have been to three NCAA tournament semifinals. The No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Orange stand in the way of a fourth final four appearance. Here are three keys for Maryland (10-6), which faces Syracuse (13-2) on Saturday at noon at Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y.

1) Be efficient on offense. Opponents are averaging 30 shots a contest against the Orange, but it would behoove the Terps to follow last Sunday’s pattern when they put 21 of 33 shots (63.6 percent) on goal in a 7-3 victory over No. 7 seed Notre Dame in the first round. Maryland doesn’t have to outshoot Syracuse necessarily, but the offense must test sophomore goalkeeper John Galloway, who was the shakiest goalie in last year’s final four, early and often. If the Terps can maintain the pressure, maybe they can gain the upper hand.

2) Give Stephen Keogh the Ryan Hoff treatment. In the win against the Fighting Irish, Maryland rotated short-stick defensive midfielders Bryn Holmes and Dan Burns and close defensemen Brett Schmidt and Mike Griswold on Ryan Hoff, who failed to take a single shot. The Terps would be wise to employ a similar tactic against Keogh, the sophomore attackman who ranks second in the country with 44 goals. "He can dodge a little bit, and the thing I’ve been impressed with is, he’s physical," Cottle said. "He hits defensemen, he’s a good rider, and it doesn’t seem like he ever misses a shot. I think he’s a complete player." Such a move puts the onus on the rest of defense to stay with the dodges and recover after sliding, but Maryland can help itself by shutting off the Orange’s primary finisher.

3) Beware Syracuse’s transition game. Along with Virginia and Duke, the Orange is one of the best at turning a save or a turnover in the defensive zone into an offensive opportunity. Syracuse is blessed with defenders with excellent stick skills and tremendous speed. Maybe this is the contest when the Terps move sophomore Grant Catalino back to attack because he can’t play defense if he is playing midfield. "You’ve got to get back and hold out, but you’ve got to do something when you get back there," Cottle said. "One of the things we’re working on is from offense to defense, getting back in the hole."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch
        

May 14, 2009

Stevenson revels in first NCAA tournament semifinal in school history

After the Mustangs’ 12-8 win against Salisbury on April 4, I asked coach Paul Cantabene about the importance of that victory, which snapped the Sea Gulls’ 105-game winning streak in the Capital Athletic Conference.

On Thursday, we had a similar conversation, in which I asked Cantabene to elaborate on the significance of his team’s 11-9 win, a victory that bounced eight-time reigning national champion Salisbury out of the NCAA tournament quarterfinal round.

"It’s pretty meaningful because it’s the first time a program at our school has ever been to the national semifinals," he said. "If you’re considering it from that aspect, I think that it means more than the first time because it’s more significant to the program. But I think it means a lot to us to beat a conference foe for the second time in the season in kind of like a three-game series. I think it meant a lot more to the guys because of how we played in that second game [a 13-5 loss to the Sea Gulls at home on April 19]. I thought we were a little embarrassed by how we played. Usually, you don’t play that way at home, and we were a little embarrassed by that. So I thought they came out with a good chip on their shoulders and got the job done. … I think it just proves that our program is moving on. Each game is another step for us in the development of the program."

Blessed with an offense that averages 13.6 goals, Stevenson’s defense has quietly stolen the show. A unit anchored by junior goalkeeper Geoff Hebert and senior defenseman Mike Simon has limited Cabrini and Salisbury – the Nos. 3 and 5 offenses in the country – to a combined 16 goals. (Both Cabrini and Salisbury had averaged 16 goals per game.)

"You have to play great defense," Cantabene said. "You can’t always outscore your opponents because at this time, everybody has film, everybody has scouted, everybody knows about each other. It’s a little easier to play defense because you know so much about the other team. And I think our offensive guys are doing a great job of controlling the ball. They’re not just looking for the first shot. They’re looking to get the best shot possible and make teams pay. And our defense is making stops when we need to get stops, which, in the past, we hadn’t always gotten. So I think they’ve picked up their game, and they understand how important it is to play good defense and that every possession means something."

Sophomore attackman Jimmy Dailey dislocated his right shoulder for what Cantabene called the "seventh or eighth time" this season, but Dailey is expected to play in Sunday’s semifinal at 1 p.m. at home against Gettysburg.

"He was yelling at me during the game that he was coming back in once it happened. I said, ‘We’ll see,’ and he said, ‘Coach, I’m going back in.’ When you have a kid that wants to play that bad, you kind of have to go with your gut feeling," Cantabene said with a laugh. "That’s why we put him back in. I doubt he’ll miss Sunday. He’ll be fine."

One final note about Sunday’s game: The Furshman family will be a conflicted bunch as Greg, a senior midfielder for the Mustangs, will try to lead his team to victory against his brother Zach, a senior goalkeeper for the Bullets.

Cantabene said the family was somewhat uncomfortable during the team’s lone contest back on March 4, which Stevenson won, 16-6. (Greg Furshman recorded a goal and an assist, while Zach Furshman made eight saves and surrendered 14 goals.)

"I think they’re like any other brothers," Cantabene said. "They want to beat each other when it comes down to it in the end. Greg gives a few tidbits to his teammates on what he knows about him, and I’m sure that Greg’s brother is telling Gettysburg’s defense how to defend his brother. He’s played against Greg his whole life, so he probably knows Greg’s tendencies. I think it goes both ways."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:51 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson
        

Hopkins attackman Kyle Wharton's status unclear for Sunday's game

Kyle Wharton injured his right ankle while attempting to chase down and trail-check Brown sophomore defenseman Peter Fallon late in the fourth quarter of the Blue Jays’ 12-11 overtime win against the Bears in the first round of the NCAA tournament last Saturday.

Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the sophomore attackman’s injury is not considered serious and that he could start in the No. 8 seed Blue Jays’ NCAA tournament quarterfinal against top-seeded Virginia Sunday at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

"We’ll see what happens," Pietramala said. "We’re going to obviously be smart, but I haven’t been told that he’s not going to play. Usually when someone can’t play, I know, and I haven’t been told that by the trainers."

Wharton leads the team in goals (33) and man-up tallies (6), and he ranks second in points (44) behind junior attackman Chris Boland’s 46 points. If Wharton can’t play, senior Josh Peck could start in his place.

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:49 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Johns Hopkins
        

A rare early exit for Salisbury

The No. 2 Sea Gulls’ 11-9 loss to top-ranked Stevenson Wednesday in the NCAA Division III tournament quarterfinals wasn’t what you would label as a typical upset.

After all, Salisbury had dropped a 12-8 decision to the Mustangs on April 4, and this current Sea Gulls squad (16-4) had incurred more losses since 2002, when that team went 13-5. And after Salisbury had beaten Stevenson to capture the Capital Athletic Conference tournament title and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament, Sea Gulls coach Jim Berkman acknowledged his the team had been in danger of being shut out of the NCAA tournament.

Still, Salisbury’s abbreviated stay in the NCAA tournament is a little surprising. It is the first time the program has not played in a tournament semifinal since 2002. And consider this: the Sea Gulls have played in 14 semifinals since Berkman became the head coach prior to the 1989 season. In those same 21 years, Salisbury has made 10 championship final appearances and won eight of those games.

The Sea Gulls’ loss also ended the career of Kylor Berkman. The reigning National Player of the Year and two-time Midfielder of the Year, Berkman finished his career ranked second on the school’s all-time list in career points (298) and assists (170) behind Jason Coffman (451, 202).

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:07 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson
        

May 13, 2009

ESPN's Mark Dixon chimes in on NCAA tournament

While helping me on a couple of features to advance the Maryland-Syracuse and Johns Hopkins-Virginia matchups in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon was generous enough to review the first-round games and look ahead to this weekend.

Which team impressed you with its first-round performance?

Mark Dixon:
Duke was the most impressive. People may say that they didn’t have the toughest matchup with Navy, but Navy came down and had two or three scoring chances in the first four or five minutes of that game, but [senior goalkeeper Rob] Schroeder came up big. Schroeder was the one that everybody said was the Achilles’ heel for Duke, and he stepped up his play really well lately and in particular, Saturday night. And then you have that offense, which is really clicking on all cylinders. They’re sharing the ball, they’re shooting extremely well, they’re playing great together as a team. But the one thing that really stood out to me was their defense. [Freshman long-stick midfielder] C.J. Costabile has turned into a monster with the long pole. He prevented two or three scoring chances off the faceoffs with great hustle and tremendous trail checks. And even though they were winning 10-0 at halftime, that defense played whistle to whistle. They were aggressive, in pursuit, and they really got after it.

Which team surprised you?

Mark Dixon:
Gosh, they all won, so can you really call that disappointing? Probably, I would say Hopkins for the reason being that they had a three-goal lead at home and Brown was able to get back into the game and force overtime. So I think if you’re Hopkins, you’re looking at a three-goal lead that evaporated, and overtime was forced on your home field. But the good news for Hopkins was that they won the game. It seems like in 2009, [senior midfielder] Brian Christopher has been the guy who has really found a way to win for Hopkins. ... But look, you won, and you’re moving on. At this stage in the season, you live to fight another day, and if you need to make adjustments, at least you have another game you can make adjustments for instead of sitting at home and wondering what-if.

Hindsight being 20/20, should North Carolina sophomore attackman Billy Bitter – who scored eight goals on nine shots in a 15-13 win against UMBC – have been a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy?

Mark Dixon:
I think if you look at the list, the head-scratcher for me was Zack Greer. He is the leading scorer in the country, and he is an amazing player. However, his team doesn’t even qualify for the NCAA tournament because this is their first year of DI. That was the one thing. I thought Bitter could have taken the place of Greer.

Which quarterfinal matchup is the most intriguing?

Mark Dixon: I think they all have their intrigue. With Princeton and Cornell, Cornell won the first time around with that senior class of [midfielders Max] Seibald and [John] Glynn, and [freshman attackman Rob] Pannell is playing great. And then you’ve got Princeton, which I think may be the most balanced team in the tournament. With Maryland and Syracuse, they haven’t met since 1997. They’re two teams that aren’t familiar with each other in terms of playing each other in recent years. But I think [the quarterfinal doubleheader at] Annapolis is going to be amazing. You’ve got two high-scoring offenses facing off in both games. The question is, will those offenses continue to produce at that level or which defense or defenses will step up? Which goalie will step up and make that one save to get his team to Foxborough [the site of the final four]? I think the two games in Annapolis are the most intriguing.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

Conference call with Syracuse coach John Desko

Since John Desko succeeded the legendary Roy Simmons Jr. as head coach prior to the 1999 season, the Orange have won four national championships, including last year's. Seeking to become the first repeat champion since Princeton’s run of three straight between 1996 and 1998, No. 2 seed Syracuse (13-2) is scheduled to face Maryland (10-6) Saturday at noon in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Desko participated in a conference call with out-of-town media Wednesday morning, and here is a partial transcript of that call.

How is Syracuse so adept at transitioning from defense to offense?

John Desko:
I think the last couple of years, it’s started with [sophomore goalkeeper] John Galloway. If he makes the save, I think he’s one of the better clearing goalies and outlet-passing goalies in the game today. And then [senior defenseman] Sid [Smith] comes to us with a tremendous stick, and he’s very slick at finding the open man and understands the clear. [Sophomore defenseman] John Lade has done a good job there also, and on top of that, I think our short sticks are about as athletic as we’ve had with [sophomore] Jovan Miller, [freshman] Kevin Drew, [senior] Matty Abbott, [junior] Joe Coulter. The guys can get up and down the field pretty well, so I think that helps us in transition.

When you look at Maryland with junior Brian Phipps in the cage, what do you see out of him? Even though he’s a guy who has only played part-time here the last few years, do you see somebody that is one of the better goalies in the country?

John Desko:
I think you do. The games that I’ve seen – I’ve obviously seen more recently – even during the year, I’ve seen a couple [televised] games, and I thought he’s been very solid, and the defense has been good around him. They’ve been pretty stingy this year, and they’re a physical group. So you know if you’re going to dodge and try to penetrate, you’re probably going to get hit if you go in there. So I think they’ve been good as a group, and I think he’s been playing pretty solid all year.

What do you remember about the last time these two teams played back in 1997 in the NCAA tournament semifinal at Byrd Stadium? (Note: The Terps won, 18-17, before falling to Princeton in the title game.)

John Desko:
We used to scrimmage in the spring. We haven’t done it the last couple of years, but before that, we scrimmaged, so we know them a little bit. But the ’97 game, I just remember that it was really back and forth. It was really a physical game. A lot of contact in that kind of game. I thought they played with a lot of intensity, and they played hard. It was a very good lacrosse game.

What’s your impression of Maryland senior midfielder Dan Groot?

John Desko: I think he’s one of their top middies. You have a hard time deciding whether to pole him or [senior midfielder Jeremy] Sieverts. I know Notre Dame poled him. I think he goes to the goal as hard as anybody that Maryland has. When he goes down that alley, he’s certainly one of the top threats around to score. So you’ve got to know where he has, you’ve got to decide how to play him, and if he gets to his spot, you’re going to have to go and help out and double-team him because he’s got some range on his shot.

What do you make of the Terps’ decision to move sophomore Grant Catalino from attack to midfield?

John Desko: I think by doing that, it allows [sophomore attackman Jake] Reed to come in, and he can really finish the ball left-handed on that corner. He’s a pretty smart player, he’s pretty slick in there. Definitely, you have to decide whom you’re going to pole in that group now. It allows him [Catalino] to come in with that group and invert at times and go behind the goal and all of a sudden now, you’ve got Sieverts and Groot up top and you can get [junior attackman Will] Yeatman on one wing, you can get Reed out there on another wing. So then all of a sudden, he [Catalino] is behind the goal, which is always a tough matchup, especially going against a short stick. And then you’ve got all those dangerous shooters out front. It gives them another dimension, and he’s a good inside player, so that the other two middies can come up top and dodge, and he can catch the ball and finish on the inside. Any time you’ve got somebody of that physical size, he makes a great pick or screen, and it just gives them a new dimension to that first group.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        

Salisbury at Stevenson: Three things to watch

Much will be at stake when the eight-time reigning national champion Sea Gulls (16-3) visit the top-ranked Mustangs (16-1) Wednesday at 4 p.m. in a NCAA Division III tournament quarterfinal. These three developments could have an impact on the outcome.

1) Offensive efficiency is key for two teams ranked in the top 15 in the country in scoring. In Stevenson’s 12-8 victory on April 4, Salisbury, which is fifth after averaging 16.1 goals per game, took 33 shots, but put only 14 on net, which amounts to a 42.4 percentage. In the Sea Gulls’ 13-5 win on April 19, the Mustangs, who rank 13th with a 13.7 average, placed 16 of 33 shots (48.5 percent) on the cage – a number that pales in comparison to Stevenson’s blistering 62.5 percent (25 of 40) efficiency in the first meeting. The team that applies the most pressure on the opposing netminder will likely have the advantage.

2) In a sport where momentum is as fleeting as a faceoff win, both teams thrived on runs in the two contests. In the Mustangs’ victory, they broke open a 6-6 tie with five unanswered goals in a span of 10:34 of the third quarter. Similarly, in Salisbury’s win, the Sea Gulls scored all six goals in the first half and nine of the first 11. Both sides will try to impose their will upon the other, and the team that can resist being overwhelmed could advance to the semifinals on Sunday.

3) Salisbury’s first midfield line of senior Kylor Berkman, junior Mike Von Kamecke and freshman Sam Bradman is a potent mix of power and talent, but that unit struggled in the first meeting. Stevenson limited Berkman and Von Kamecke to one assist and one goal, respectively, and forced them into a combined nine turnovers. The onus will be on Mustangs senior defenseman Mike Simon and sophomore defenseman Evan Douglass to replicate that performance against Berkman and Von Kamecke, respectively. If that happens, the scales might be tipped in favor of the hosts.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson, Three things to watch
        

May 12, 2009

Has the Maryland goalie carousel stopped?

For the past two seasons, Terps coach Dave Cottle has stuck with his practice of rotating senior Jason Carter and junior Brian Phipps in the cage. If Carter starts, Phipps plays the second half and then the pattern is repeated except that Phipps starts and Carter finishes. There is, however, the understanding that if the first-half goalkeeper is playing well, the coaches reserve the right to allow him to finish.

With Maryland (10-6) getting ready to play No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Syracuse (13-2) in a NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday at noon, Cottle hinted Tuesday that he may stick with Phipps and start him for the third consecutive game.

"We’ve been impressed with the way Brian has played the last couple of weeks," said a clearly pained Cottle. "I love both goalies. It’ll be a game-time decision, but it’ll be hard not to play Brian."

The numbers seem to bear out Phipps starting over Carter. Although the duo each has five wins and Carter has two fewer losses, Phipps has a better save percentage (.593 to Carter’s .495) and goals-against average (7.13 to Carter’s 7.54).

Although the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Carter is the more physically imposing goalkeeper, the 5-9, 180-pound Phipps has collected 25 groundballs to Carter’s 17 and is adept at kick-starting the Terps’ clearing game.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        

Salisbury, Stevenson to meet in Division III NCAA tournament quarterfinals

When the top-ranked Mustangs and No. 2 Sea Gulls meet for the third time this season in the Division III NCAA tournament quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Stevenson, comparisons will be made to Game 7 in a NBA or NHL playoff series.

Paul Cantabene prefers another sports analogy.

"I would say it’s more like an Ali-Frazier match," the Stevenson coach said. "Here are two teams that have taken every punch thrown by each other, and we’re going for round three to see who the better team is. There’s definitely going to be that intensity. Both teams have been very much into the games and left everything on the field both times. This game is going to have a great atmosphere to it, and both teams are going to be ready to play."

The winner Wednesday earns the right to face the winner of Gettysburg-Denison in a semifinal on Sunday, but deciding the rubber match in the series between these Capital Athletic Conference rivals is the first priority.

The Mustangs (16-1) won the first meeting on April 4, scoring a 12-8 decision that snapped Salisbury’s 105-game winning streak against CAC foes. The eight-time reigning national champion Sea Gulls (16-3) returned the favor 15 days later, blasting Stevenson, 13-5, in the conference tournament final.

So it’s safe to say that both sides know what to anticipate Wednesday.

"At this point, it makes it a little easier in preparation in that there are going to be no surprises on Wednesday," Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said. "There might be a new little glitch here and a new little glitch there, but you’re not going to re-invent the people on the team -- you know who the three attackmen are, you know what the matchups are probably going to be, you know what you’ve seen. ... It becomes more like a series, like a hockey series and now we’re down to the seventh game. And you know from watching those kinds of things that as the games go on, the tension and the aggressiveness and everything else keeps multiplying. This is going to be a battle."

It would seem that Salisbury would be at a slight disadvantage in that they will play their fifth consecutive game away from the friendly confines of Sea Gull Stadium. But Berkman said the team is not intimidated by the prospect of playing at Caves Athletic Complex, the Mustangs’ home in Owings Mills.

"Home field is what it is," he said. "In our sport, if a team’s already been there, I think the home-field advantage tends to get negated a bit. We’ve been there. We’ve played on their field, and we’ve played well on their field. So I think confidence-wise, that’s not going to be an issue."

In the same vein, Stevenson is eager to make amends for the eight-goal loss to the Sea Gulls, which occurred in Owings Mills.

"I think we were pretty embarrassed on our home field to play the way we did last time," Cantabene said. "So I’m looking for them to come out and play very intense and play very smart and understand situations and play the game with their heads. I think we’re in great shape and we understand what we have to do. How we handle the game mentally is going to be the big thing for us."

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:04 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson
        

CBS College Sports' Paul Carcaterra's thoughts on the first round

Got on the phone yesterday with CBS College Sports analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra, who offered his assessment of the NCAA tournament first round and a quick peek at the quarterfinals this weekend.

Q: Which team impressed you with its first-round performance?

Paul Carcaterra:
Princeton took a commanding lead on UMass. That game wasn’t really as close as it may have appeared in the final [10-7]. I think it was 6-1 at one point. They were pretty impressive in the first half. Cornell, I thought, was given all they really could handle at least for 2½ quarters against Hofstra. There wasn’t one team out there that made me say, "Wow." People think Virginia beating Villanova, 16-0, at one point is a wow moment. To me, that’s not really a wow moment because Villanova goes down early against the No. 1 seed in the tournament on the road. To me, that’s a snowball effect.

Q: Which team surprised you?

PC:
I think North Carolina showed you two things. On the positive side, they showed they can score in bunches, and they have a high-octane offense behind [sophomore attackman Billy] Bitter. Although a majority of his goals were assisted, he still dominated the way he played in terms of getting those shots and finding space to get those shots. But if they play like that defensively against Duke, they’re in trouble. UMBC has a real nice midfield, but they’re not Duke because Duke is going to defend. … UNC is going to have to really improve in terms of their defense to play with Duke next week.

Q: Hindsight being 20/20, should Bitter – who scored eight goals on nine shots in a 15-13 win against UMBC – have been a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy?

PC:
It’s a tough call. Everyone sits here now and says, "Yeah, probably." But that’s an elite group of kids. I don’t want to say that it’s more of a career award because it’s really not when you look at a kid like Mike Leveille last year. He was only a first-team All American once, but he led his team to the national championship and did a phenomenal job. There’s a couple guys on that list right now that might not have had the actual season that Billy Bitter had, but they’ve been doing it long enough that they’ve given themselves a name in the college lacrosse world to be recognized in that light. It’s kind of tough. How many underclassmen have won the award? … I think for a sophomore to be on that list, you have to be dominant from Day 1 to the day the selection committee is down to its list of five [finalists]. Billy had a phenomenal year, but he’s been hotter the last two-thirds of the season than he was before. … It’s the whole entire body of work. He’s certainly one of the best lacrosse players in the country. He’s got two years to win that award and he’s going to do with it an ‘X’ on his back. He’ll deserve it if he keeps up those types of numbers in the remainder of his career.

Q: Which quarterfinal match-up is the most intriguing?

PC: Cornell-Princeton to me is a total pick-em. Cornell won that last match-up, but Princeton is doing some things from the midfield that I haven’t seen since their last national championship year [1998]. I think the biggest void with Princeton over the last five, six, seven years was the lack of a midfield. And this year they’re getting it with Rich Sgalardi and Mark Kovler. They’re playing a different brand of lacrosse where they have to be accounted for, not just the attack position. I think the Virginia-Hopkins game is going to be excellent because no one prepares in the playoffs like coaches [Dave] Pietramala, [Bill] Dwan and [Bobby] Benson. Look at what happened last year when they got absolutely blown out against Duke and then they go and play them in the national semifinals and win. He’s going to make tons of adjustments to a game they lost in the final minute. So to me, Virginia has a tough, tough task in front of them.

Cornell-Princeton to me is a total pick-em. Cornell won that last match-up, but Princeton is doing some things from the midfield that I haven’t seen since their last national championship year [1998]. I think the biggest void with Princeton over the last five, six, seven years was the lack of a midfield. And this year they’re getting it with Rich Sgalardi and Mark Kovler. They’re playing a different brand of lacrosse where they have to be accounted for, not just the attack position. I think the Virginia-Hopkins game is going to be excellent because no one prepares in the playoffs like coaches [Dave] Pietramala, [Bill] Dwan and [Bobby] Benson. Look at what happened last year when they got absolutely blown out against Duke and then they go and play them in the national semifinals and win. He’s going to make tons of adjustments to a game they lost in the final minute. So to me, Virginia has a tough, tough task in front of them.
Posted by Edward Lee at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, UMBC
        

May 11, 2009

Quarterfinal dates and times set for Johns Hopkins and Maryland

The Terps will open lacrosse's version of the Elite Eight by taking on No. 2 seed and reigning national champion Syracuse on Saturday at noon at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. No. 4 seed Princeton (13-2) and No. 5 seed Cornell (11-3) will play approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Maryland-Orange tilt.

The Terps (10-6) upended No. 7 seed and previously undefeated Notre Dame, 7-3, on Sunday afternoon. Syracuse (13-2) walloped Siena, 11-4, Sunday night.

Series nugget: Maryland hasn't played against the Orange since May 24, 1997 when the Terps won an 18-17 thriller in a NCAA tournament semifinal. Maryland lost to Princeton in the title game.

The No. 8 seed Blue Jays will meet top-seeded Virginia on Sunday at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Then No. 3 seed Duke (14-3) will play against No. 6 North Carolina (12-5) approximately 30 minutes afterward.

Johns Hopkins (10-4) edged Brown, 12-11, in overtime on Saturday. The Cavaliers (14-2) had a much easier time, throttling Villanova, 18-6, on Sunday.

Series nugget: The Blue Jays own a 53-25 advantage, but they are just 3-8 against Virginia in the nine years Dave Pietramala has been Johns Hopkins' head coach. It's the only sub-.500 record the Blue Jays have against an opponent under Pietramala.

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland
        

Postscript from Maryland at Notre Dame

Don’t tell Dan Groot that Sunday’s victory over Notre Dame was an upset.

Even though the unseeded Terps defeated the No. 7 seed and previously unbeaten Fighting Irish, 7-3, at Alumni Field in South Bend, Ind., some Maryland players like Groot felt seeding (or lack thereof) was inconsequential to the outcome.

"It’s an upset because they were the seventh seed, and we weren’t seeded," said the senior midfielder who led all scorers with two goals. "I think we came in here confident. They didn’t look so confident to me in warm-ups. But I wouldn’t say it was an upset. We were ready to play. We thought we were the better team. We thought we could come in here and win it, and that’s what we did."

Notre Dame’s first loss in 16 contests raises the question of whether the team deserved one of the eight seeds after completing a regular-season schedule that was not considered among the most strenuous in the country. The Fighting Irish did beat North Carolina on March 8 and Villanova on March 31, but those were the only two tournament teams on their schedule.

Coach Kevin Corrigan, whose team will move to the Big East for the 2010 season, defended his team’s schedule.

"We beat the University of North Carolina, who beat [the Terps] by six [in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament]," he said. "The strength of schedule didn’t have anything to do with it. We played poorly today. That had everything to do with it. We weren’t prepared.

"We’re a very good team," Corrigan continued. "I’m not going to beat up our team for being 15-0 against any schedule. We had a great season, we played really well for a long extended period of time. We didn’t play very well today, and therefore we lost."

Maryland coach Dave Cottle opened his post-game conference by praising Notre Dame’s run, saying, "I don’t think our team could’ve done what they did in the regular season. So I feel for them."

Other notes:

*With Irish senior goalkeeper Scott Rodgers standing at an imposing 6 feet 4, 254 pounds, the onus was on the Terps to solve the man who had yet to surrender 10 goals in a single game this season. That streak remained intact, but Maryland was able to score twice in each of the first three quarters.

Five of those goals occurred on shots between the left and right wings, mainly staying in the center of the field -- a tactic that was designed, according to Cottle.

"We felt like this goalie was outstanding down the alleys," he said of Rodgers. "We had to shoot from the middle of the hash marks and in to be effective. You can say you want to shoot from those areas, but it’s hard to get to those areas. But we felt like we could get it inside a little bit."

*With the return of former Fighting Irish and current Terps attackman Will Yeatman, both teams’ post-game conferences were littered with questions about Yeatman. Corrigan said the team refrained from getting involved in the attention surrounding Yeatman’s presence.

"I don’t think it was a distraction to our guys," he said. "It wasn’t something we talked about, it wasn’t something we focused on. It just wasn’t an issue."

Senior defenseman Regis McDermott roomed with Yeatman during his freshman year in 2007, and McDermott said the two of them talked in the days leading up to Sunday’s contest.

"We just decided that we weren’t going to get into any talking during the game," McDermott said. "I never talk to the attackmen I’m covering. So it was business as usual."

That’s not quite how Yeatman remembered it though. "That was his decision," he said of McDermott.

*The 36-minute, 31-second drought Notre Dame labored through was the longest Maryland had applied to an opponent this season. The previous long was 29:39 against Virginia on March 28. ... Groot has scored a team-high 16 goals in the Terps’ last 10 contests. "It’s nice when your captain and senior steps up in these games," Cottle said. ... Here's a nugget from Sean Carroll, assistant sports information director with the Fighting Irish: Notre Dame's last three trips to the NCAA tournament have ended in losses to the eventual national champion. In 2006, the Fighting Irish lost to Virginia in the first round. The following year, Johns Hopkins edged Notre Dame in overtime in the first round. And last May, the Fighting Irish fell to Syracuse in the quarterfinals. Does this bode well for Maryland?

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland, Postscript
        

May 9, 2009

Maryland's Grant Catalino tries his hand in the midfield

Terps coach Dave Cottle is not above tinkering with a good thing.

This season, Cottle has sought to get more balance out of his midfield lines, at first running seniors Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts and Jeff Reynolds together, then moving Reynolds down to the second line, and alternating between using attackmen Travis Reed, Nick Ward and Joe Cummings in the midfield

His boldest move -- as first reported by The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper -- may have occurred in the regular-season finale against Yale on May 2 when he paired Groot and Sieverts with Grant Catalino.

Catalino leads Maryland in goals (22), assists (21) and points (43), but had taken just five shots in games against Penn and North Carolina as opposing defenses sought to shut off the 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior attackman. So Cottle elected to move Catalino and give him -- and the Bulldogs defense -- a different look.

Catalino finished with just one assist, but he got enough space to take four shots in the 10-6 win against Yale.

"When you don’t think you’re playing well, you keep moving pieces around," Cottle said without revealing whether Catalino might start at midfield against No. 7-seed Notre Dame in a NCAA tournament first-round game on Sunday. "I think we’re going to see a couple attackmen play midfield, but Grant had a bunch of shots early. He just missed them. He presents a different look because he can catch and shoot. I think it’s given us a little more flexibility."

Catalino is one of the Terps’ most accurate snipers, and moving him to the top of the offensive zone gives him the room to unleash his right-handed shot without being hampered by a defenseman.

"He’s such a good shooter. And it does get him more shots," Cottle said. "He wasn’t getting enough shots at times when he was on the attack. That was sort of the logic behind that."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland
        

May 8, 2009

Maryland at Notre Dame: Three things to watch

The Terps are 19-6 in the first round and have won eight of their last nine tournament openers. Here are three keys if Maryland wants to advance to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year by getting past Notre Dame at noon Sunday.

1.) Solve Scott Rodgers. The senior goalkeeper has done the unthinkable: made Fighting Irish fans forget about Joey Kemp. Rodgers leads the nation in save percentage (.663) and ranks second in goals-against average (6.08). No opponent has reached double digits against Rodgers. (Loyola scored nine in the season opener for both teams in February.) At 6 feet 4 and 254 pounds, Rodgers seemingly blocks every inch of the net. Asked if the objective is to test Rodgers’ lateral movement with quick skip passes, Terps coach Dave Cottle quipped, "It’s probably better than throwing it through him. He’s the best goalie I’ve seen this year. The goal [6 by 6] looks like an indoor goal [4-foot-9 by 4] behind him. He’s enormous. And he’s quick. He gets to low-and-away shots really quickly." Irony: Maryland recruited Rodgers, but he chose Notre Dame.

2.) Get more production from the midfield. When the Terps had seniors Dan Groot, Jeremy Sieverts and Jeff Reynolds on the first line, that unit produced, but the second and third lines contributed little. And when Groot, Sieverts and Reynolds combined for just two goals, Maryland won just two of five contests. Cottle has tried various tactics and personnel moves to distribute production. Analysts have pointed out that the Terps don’t have a midfield threat who can initiate from the top of the box and force slides that open up areas for the attackmen. The midfield must be active to relieve some of the pressure the Fighting Irish defense will apply to Grant Catalino & Co.

3.) Win 60 percent of faceoffs. Junior Bryn Holmes has been practically automatic for Maryland, winning 58.5 percent of his faceoffs to rank sixth in the country. But he faces a tough test in Notre Dame junior Trever Sipperly, who has won 56.4 percent this season to rank 14th. This matchup could serve as a microcosm for the overall game because an edge in faceoffs usually translates into more possessions, more shooting opportunities and (maybe) more goals.

Posted by Edward Lee at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland, Three things to watch
        

Navy at Duke: Three things to watch

The Midshipmen return to Tobacco Road after upending North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. Here are three things that could help Navy make a triumphant trip against the Blue Devils on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

1.) Double down on double deuce. Senior midfielder-turned-attackman Ned Crotty, who wears No. 22, is the leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Trophy because he may be the country’s finest passer (a Division I-leading 45 assists) and a good finisher (20 goals). He is the undisputed quarterback of the Duke offense, and he made Virginia pay for not crowding him by posting six goals and 10 assists in two Blue Devils wins. Midshipmen freshman Matt Vernam, who has locked up with opponents’ best attackmen, will likely get the unenviable task of marking Crotty. Vernam might help himself by watching game film of Army freshman defenseman Tim Henderson, who got into Crotty’s hands and shut him out in the Blue Devils’ 10-6 win on April 18.

2.) Take care of the ball. No team forces more turnovers, pounces on loose balls, and takes off to kick-start the transition offense better than Duke. Freshman C.J. Costabile is slowly emerging as one of the best long-stick midfielders in the country for his prowess at collecting and clearing the ball, and the Blue Devils thrive on fast breaks – which has not escaped the attention of Navy coach Richie Meade. "The thing about them that’s challenging is they get a lot of goals off situations that are just regular situations," he said. "The ball’s on the ground, and they get up and out and they bang it and they score very quickly. I saw one clip where they were a man down against Virginia and they scored off a 4-on-3 because they pushed it. So we’re going to have to play very, very well defensively."

3.) Work the offense. The Midshipmen value possessions, passing the ball around until an opportunity arises. They must do that effectively against a Duke starting defense that averages 6 feet, 3 inches in height and 220 pounds. Navy won’t run over the Blue Devils, but if the Midshipmen can work the ball around quickly, they might be able to test goalie Rob Schroeder, who has had his shaky moments this season. "This is going to be a very difficult challenge for us," junior attackman Tim Paul said of Duke’s defense. "They’re big, they’re fast, they’re athletic, and they can handle the ball. These guys are All-American caliber guys. They’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us. We’re going to see checks that we probably have never seen before or at least not this year. So we’re going to have to be ready. We’re going to have to have good ball movement, have good speed, and be able to run by our defenders when they get out of place. This will definitely be one of the best defenses we’ve faced this year."

Posted by Edward Lee at 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Navy, Three things to watch
        

UMBC at North Carolina: Three things to watch

The Retrievers are just 1-4 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, while the Tar Heels have lost five of their last seven tournament openers. Here are three things that could help UMBC get past North Carolina on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and collect its second first-round win in three years.

1.) Win 50 percent of the faceoffs. This may be a tall task. North Carolina leads the country with a .623 faceoff percentage and senior Shane Walterhoefer ranks second in the nation with a .627 percentage. He is fourth in NCAA history in faceoffs and seventh in ground balls. Retrievers freshman Justin Radebaugh has been improving and owns a .489 success rate, but he is going to need a lot of help from his wings. If UMBC can win at least half of the faceoffs and keep possession on the offensive end, the team’s outlook improves immensely.

2.) Watch No. 4. The Tar Heels’ Billy Bitter is perhaps the most improved player in the country, and Retrievers senior defenseman Kevin Goedeke will likely get the unenviable assignment of shadowing the sophomore attackman. After recording six goals and 15 assists last season, Bitter leads the team in goals (38), assists (22) and points (60). He had some ankle-breaking moves in the Big City Classic last month against Virginia, embarrassing defenseman Ken Clausen, a first-team All American in 2008. ESPN analyst and 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Ward said he hasn’t seen a player improve in every game as Bitter has this season. This is not to suggest that the Retrievers should forget Bart Wagner, Sean Delaney and Gavin Petracca, but limiting Bitter is a good first step to coming out on the positive end.

3.) Get Hopmann and Wimer involved early and often. Despite season totals of 33 goals and seven assists and 21 goals and 18 assists, respectively, midfielders Alex Hopmann and Kyle Wimer usually end up getting marked by short-stick defenders as opponents have been wary of midfielder Peet Poillon and UMBC’s starting attack of Ryan Smith, Matt Latham and Chris Jones. Hopmann and Wimer have to take advantage of their opportunities and make North Carolina pay for their defensive assignments. Hopmann has registered 10 goals and four assists in his last five games, but Wimer has been unusually quiet, posting three goals and five assists over the same stretch.

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch, UMBC
        

Brown at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

Normally, I would use this space to highlight three game developments that could determine the outcome for either team. I’m going to tweak it slightly and just go with what I think are three keys to victory for Johns Hopkins when Brown visits Saturday at noon.

1.) Attack the short stick. With a Blue Jays offense that boasts 18-goal scorers in attackmen Chris Boland, Steven Boyle and Kyle Wharton and midfielders Brian Christopher and Michael Kimmel, the Bears must shadow one of those players with a short-stick defender. Christopher has registered 14 goals and five assists during Johns Hopkins’ six-game winning streak, and Kimmel has eight goals and a team-high 11 assists. Wharton scored five goals against Hofstra’s short sticks, and Boland scored five against Albany’s short sticks. The guess here is that Brown will short-stick Boyle, who scored just one goal in the regular-season finale against Loyola and is dealing with an undisclosed injury.

2.) Test Jordan Burke. The Bears senior goalkeeper is one of the best in the country. The 2008 Ivy League Player of the Year, Burke is a unique combination of size (6 feet 1, 190 pounds), quickness and intellect. He is left-handed, which tends to throw off opponents who have never played against him. Kimmel said the Blue Jays will have to be efficient and selective with their shots against Burke. "Sometimes in games, we’ll take a 13- or 14-yard shot, and it’ll be able to go, but I don’t think this weekend we’ll be able to get away with that kind of stuff," he said. "I think we’re really concentrating on being unselfish and working for the best shot. We’re going to need to try to work for lay-ups as opposed to outside shots, which he can see coming."

3.) Own the faceoff X. Possession takes the pressure off of the defense and extends opportunities to the offense, and a key component of possession is faceoffs. This is where Johns Hopkins would seem to have an advantage. The duo of sophomore Matt Dolente and junior Michael Powers has taken the majority of the faceoffs, and the Blue Jays have won 52.5 percent. Four Browns players have taken at least 54 faceoffs each, and the Bears have only won 41.3 percent overall.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Three things to watch
        

May 7, 2009

Johns Hopkins' midfield duo emerging

Friday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun will include an article on the emergence of Blue Jays midfielders Brian Christopher and Michael Kimmel, who have capably filled the void left behind by the graduations of Paul Rabil and Stephen Peyser.

Christopher has grabbed the more recent headlines with double-overtime, game-winning goals against Towson and No. 18 Loyola in a span of 11 days. During Johns Hopkins’ six-game winning streak, Christopher has registered 14 goals and five assists. (Thanks to sports information director Ernie Larossa for that nugget.)

Christopher said he appreciated being counseled by Rabil and Peyser towards the end of last season.

"At first, I know I was taken aback and thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to have to step up and replace these guys,’" Christopher said. "I think I’ve worked a little harder this year and put in the extra time knowing that I had to fill the shoes of Paul and Stephen. I’m coming down the home stretch of my college career. I’m taking it upon myself to come out every game and give it everything I’ve got. This is my last run at this thing."

ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich said he enjoys watching Christopher bull his way to the middle of the field to take high-percentage shots.

"So often, you see guys dodge down the wing and the alleys," said Kessenich, a former All-American goalie for the Blue Jays. "But Christopher is a guy who puts his shoulder down and gets to the middle of the field, and he shoots the ball hard. I don’t think he aims, which is also kind of interesting. I just think he lets it rip hard for good parts of the net. He doesn’t get too fine with his shots, which I like."

While Christopher has become the finisher, Kimmel has developed into a feeder. He leads the team in assists with 21, and he has posted eight goals and a team-best 11 assists during Johns Hopkins’ run. (Again, kudos to Ernie Larossa.)

Kimmel said he actually prefers passing the ball to his teammates rather than scoring.

"Growing up [in Towson and playing for Loyola], I always liked to get everyone involved," Kimmel said. "I’d definitely be happier with five assists than five goals. I don’t know what it is. I’ve always kind of had this feeling that if I’m scoring, I don’t really like all of the attention. So I’d rather get everyone else the ball and make it easier for them."

Kessenich said Kimmel has emerged as the playmaker the Blue Jays missed with Rabil’s departure.

"Kimmel really carries the team on his back," Kessenich said. "He’s involved. He’s always drawing a slide and a double team. And he and Rich Sgalardi of Princeton are the two best passing midfielders in the country."

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:24 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins
        

ESPN's Matt Ward on the NCAA tournament field

Check in Friday for "Three things to watch" on all four games involving area teams. Until then, here’s a Q&A with ESPN analyst and 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Ward on the omission of Loyola, easiest and toughest paths to the Final Four and possible first-round upsets.

Q: Did Loyola deserve to be in the tournament?

Matt Ward:
I would say it’s a consistent practice of what [the selection committee has] done in the past. At the end of the day, Loyola was competing with Maryland and Brown, but what really hurt them was the loss by Hofstra [which filled one of the at-large bids that might have gone to the Greyhounds]. They had a win over Georgetown, but ultimately, their strong wins weren’t enough. I don’t think the committee takes into account close losses. Loyola could’ve and maybe should’ve beaten Hopkins. Could’ve and probably should’ve beaten Syracuse. At the end of the day, it’s on the players. Win those close games, and they’re in the NCAA tournament. I don’t know if it’s fair to look at the committee and say that Loyola should’ve been in the tournament. When the games down to it, while they were very competitive, they didn’t win the big ones that would have automatically gotten them into the tournament.

Q: Which top-four seed has the toughest road to the Final Four?

MW: If you look at Virginia, they might have to play a Hopkins team that played Virginia to a one-goal game, and Virginia’s not playing their best lacrosse right now. It depends on which U.Va. team shows up. You have Syracuse, which may have to play the No. 2-ranked and undefeated team in the country in Notre Dame, or if Maryland starts clicking on all cylinders, they’re going to have to play a tough Maryland team. On paper, I think you have to say they may have the most difficult draw. Yeah, their first-round game is probably the easiest, but their second-round matchup is probably going to be extremely difficult.

Q: Which top-four seed has the easiest road to the Final Four?

MW: I think Duke is playing the best lacrosse. I think they’ve been playing great. I don’t know how Virginia got seeded above them. I think that may have been the one thing I would have changed. Duke has just played great lacrosse down the stretch here and they beat up on Virginia a couple times and they’re playing great team lacrosse. Their attack is pretty scripted, but it’s effective because they run it to perfection and they’re putting up a lot of points. They’re getting high-quality shots, and they’re doing the simple things on offense: drawing the defender and making two crisp, extra passes and getting those step-down shots. North Carolina is a team they have seen twice and handled relatively easy both times. I think Duke has an opportunity to play great lacrosse and march into that Final Four.

Q: Which game has the biggest potential for an upset?

MW: I think Maryland at Notre Dame. Maryland could give them fits and win that game. And I kind of like the Brown Bears at Johns Hopkins, and that will come down to the play of [Brown senior Jordan] Burke in the goal. But I would have to put Maryland above [Brown] because I have a tough time picking against Coach [Dave] Pietramala and his staff. They generally win the games they’re supposed to win. I think it would require a freakish kind of effort out of Burke in the goal for Johns Hopkins to lose that game. So ultimately, I would say Maryland has a good shot at beating Notre Dame, and I think that would be huge because although they’re the seventh seed, they are the No. 2-ranked team in the country.
Posted by Edward Lee at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

CBS College Sports' Paul Carcaterra evaluates the NCAA tournament field

CBS College Sports analyst and former Syracuse All-American midfielder Paul Carcaterra helped me out with a feature in Thursday’s paper on Navy junior attackman Tim Paul, who is expected to play in the Midshipmen’s first-round NCAA tournament game against No. 3 seed Duke despite a sprained left ankle. He also took the time to discuss Loyola’s absence, easiest and toughest paths to the Final Four and possible first-round upsets.

Q: Did Loyola deserve to be in the tournament?

Paul Carcaterra: Loyola doesn’t have any top-10 wins. Brown does. Brown beat a Cornell team that’s very effective and has some of the best midfielders in the country in [Max] Seibald and [John] Glynn and Rocco Romero and great offensive players in [Ryan] Hurley and [Rob] Pannell on the attack. I think they beat an excellent Cornell team, and Loyola doesn’t have that marquee victory. They played a lot of teams tough – Syracuse, Hopkins, Notre Dame – to one-goal games, but at the end of the day, you have to beat some of them. Limiting them to one goal isn’t enough. And Maryland has top-10 wins against North Carolina and Duke. Loyola’s a good team, don’t get me wrong. It’s a shame they don’t an opportunity to continue playing because they have shown that they can play with the best. But at the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses against quality opponents, and playing them to one goal isn’t good enough.

Q: Which top-four seed has the easiest road to the final four?

PC: Personally, I’d rather be a second-seeded Syracuse than a No. 1 Virginia. That first-round game against Villanova, they should win, but it’s not going to be a total joke like some of those others that No. 1 seeds have played in the past. At the end of the day, they should win that game pretty comfortably, but look at who they’re staring at as a potential quarterfinal matchup? Johns Hopkins. That’s a team that’s been to the national championship three times in the past four years. They’re battle-tested, they’ve shown that they can play with Virginia when they lost by one goal. Virginia’s a team that has struggled in the last few weeks. Maybe they put it together and show that they deserve to be a [No.] 1 seed, but I wouldn’t want Hopkins in the quarterfinals. On the other hand, Syracuse has to beat Siena in the [Carrier] Dome. I don’t see them really struggling with Siena, and then they play the winner of Notre Dame and Maryland. Notre Dame has shown that you better put some big boys on your schedule or you’re going to get hurt. They’re undefeated and they’re [seeded] seventh in the tournament. They beat one top-10 team, and only one top-10 team was one their schedule. I think strength of schedule really hurt them in the long run. Or they get a Maryland team that many people thought was on the bubble and hasn’t played to its potential. They certainly have the talent, but what happens come tournament time is another story.

Q: Which top-four seed has the toughest road to the final four?

PC: Virginia. Hopkins, you look at that team, and it seems like they play everyone close. They’re beating teams that they should be beating by a lot only by a little or squeaking out games against teams like Maryland and Loyola. But they’ve also shown that they can play with anyone, losing to Virginia by one. I just think [head] coach [Dave] Pietramala, [associate head] coach [Bill] Dwan and [offensive coordinator Bobby] Benson are just really, really good coaches and adjust extremely well from regular-season match-ups to tournament games. If you look at their win-loss record against teams they lost to in the regular season and played again in the tournament, it’s pretty remarkable. I just wouldn’t want – as a top seed – to have to play Hopkins in the quarterfinals. I just don’t think that’s an easy road to the final four.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

May 6, 2009

First-round matchups involve reunion theme

There’s a general theme in the first-round pairings involving the area teams, and it involves reunions.

When UMBC visits No. 6 seed North Carolina Saturday, Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman returns to the program for which he served as an assistant coach between 1979-83. Zimmerman was thought to be the leading candidate for the head coaching vacancy created when the Tar Heels fired coach John Haus last May, but he removed his name from consideration and signed a six-year extension to stay at UMBC.

In addition to Zimmerman, senior midfielder Peet Poillon reunites with Joe Breschi, the new North Carolina coach who mentored Poillon when the pair competed for Ohio State. When Breschi was hired away by the Tar Heels, Poillon requested a transfer and landed with the Retrievers.

"Peet’s been with us for a year, and he’s had a great year for us," Zimmerman said of Poillon, who leads the team in assists (19) and points (44). "Whenever you go back and compete against a former coach of yours, I’m sure it’s a little special."

Much has already been made about Maryland’s matchup with No. 7 seed Notre Dame and the prodigal son-like return of Terps junior attackman Will Yeatman to South Bend, Ind. Navy’s trip to No. 3 seed Duke is a similar return home for Midshipmen coach Richie Meade, who was an assistant coach for the Blue Devils between 1977-78.

When Brown travels to Baltimore to take on No. 8 seed Johns Hopkins Saturday, Bears senior goalkeeper Jordan Burke will see his younger brother Steven, a freshman goalie for the Blue Jays.

Despite the brotherly connection, Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the coaches would not ask Steven for insider info on his older brother.

"We have far too much respect for Jordan, but in particular for Steven and his family to put Steven in that situation," Pietramala said. "We’ll do what we always do. We’ll scout and we’ll scout well and we’ll scout hard and we’ll make our decisions based on what we see on film."

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

ESPN's Quint Kessenich reviews the NCAA tournament field

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich has become the face and voice most associated with lacrosse games on television. While helping me on an article about Johns Hopkins’ midfield duo of Michael Kimmel and Brian Christopher, Kessenich answered my questions about Loyola’s omission from the NCAA tournament, a dark-horse candidate for the final four and possible first-round upsets.

You’ve said in your blog on insidelacrosse.com that the selection committee got it right. Could you elaborate on why you think that?

Quint Kessenich: The only question mark is Loyola or Brown. While Loyola had a better strength of schedule, they lost every key game on their schedule. They lost a home game in conference to UMass, and that cost them the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Brown went to UMass and beat UMass. So there’s a common opponent there. Brown won two key games on the year. They beat Cornell and they beat UMass on the road, and that’s the difference. You can play the toughest schedule in the nation, but ultimately, you’ve got to win a game. Loyola lost every close game. So I have no problem with that.

Which top-four seed has the toughest road to the final four?

Kessenich: I think they’re all about equal.

Which game has the biggest potential for an upset?

Kessenich: The ACC in the last two years has suffered some home playoff losses. Last year, Carolina lost to Navy at home. Two years ago, Virginia lost to Delaware at home. So somebody in that conference at home is vulnerable. I’m thinking the Navy-Duke game or the UMBC-Carolina game could be the best games of the first round.

Is there a dark horse that could make the final four?

Kessenich: Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Maryland -- all of these programs are programs that have made the final four recently. Look at the coaching experience in this group. There are multiple coaches that have won national titles, and almost all of these programs have been to championship weekend at least once. UMass has been there, Maryland’s been there, Notre Dame’s been there, UMBC’s been close. There’s a tremendous amount of coaching experience here. So that’s why I think it’s wide open. I think there are about seven or eight teams right now that have shown that they’re good enough to win that big game.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:04 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

ECAC honors for six Loyola players

The Greyhounds placed a league-high six players on the All-Eastern College Athletic Conference teams, and senior long-stick midfielder P.T. Ricci was named Defensive Player of the Year and freshman midfielder Mike Sawyer earned Rookie of the Year.

Ricci, an ECAC first-team honoree for the second consecutive season, routinely shadowed opponents’ most potent offensive midfielders, but he also chipped in two goals and five assists. He led the nation in caused turnovers with 51 and ranked second by averaging 6.36 groundballs per game. He finished the season with 91 groundballs, which ranks fifth on the school’s single-season list. His career totals include 232 groundballs and 115 caused turnovers.

Ricci was joined on the first team by teammate Shane Koppens, the 2008 conference Offensive Player of the Year. Despite missing the first two games of the year, the senior attackman led Loyola for the second straight year with 41 points on 22 goals and a team-high 19 assists. Koppens ranks fourth on the program’s all-time assists list with 80 and eighth on the career points list with 151.

Sawyer heads the second team after ranking fourth on the team in scoring with nine goals and four assists in 12 games. He was ECAC Rookie of the Week twice and is the second consecutive Greyhound to be named ECAC Rookie of the Year after goalie Jake Hagelin collected the award in 2008.

Loyola also put junior attackman Cooper MacDonnell, junior defenseman Steve Layne and junior face-off specialist John Schiavone on the second team.

"This is obviously very exciting to have six players be named All-ECAC and I think that it’s a testament to how well our team has worked together this season," said coach Charley Toomey, 22-6 against conference opponents during his tenure.

Posted by Edward Lee at 10:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Loyola
        

May 5, 2009

Silence is golden for Maryland's Will Yeatman

When the NCAA bracket was released Sunday night, one of the more prominent story lines involved Terps junior attackman Will Yeatman returning to seventh-seeded Notre Dame, where he began his collegiate career in both lacrosse and football.

With various media outlets here and in South Bend, Indiana, requesting interviews with Yeatman, Maryland coach Dave Cottle has elected to keep Yeatman out of the spotlight by making him off-limits to reporters this week.

"Some of by best friends in life are on the Notre Dame lacrosse team and I have tremendous respect for the coaches and staff at Notre Dame," Yeatman said in a written statement released by the school. "So, to treat all parties with the proper respect, I will not be conducting interviews this week."

The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Yeatman led the Fighting Irish in scoring with 46 points on 21 goals and 25 assists as a freshman in 2007. Yeatman served a season-long suspension last spring after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and criminal recklessness stemming from a Jan. 28 arrest. Yeatman, who also was a tight end for the football team, encountered more legal problems and another suspension in September after being arrested on a charge of underage drinking at an off-campus party.

In February, Yeatman talked to me about leaving Notre Dame, and he made it clear that he still harbored a lot of affection for his former school.

"It was a very difficult situation mainly because when you’re at a college for 2½ years, you make so many bonds with so many great people and it’s hard to leave them," Yeatman said. "People have criticized me for saying this, but I was very unhappy, and I live my life to be a happy person. And I feel like if I’m unhappy, then there’s something wrong. I felt like at this time in my life, I needed a change, and I’m really happy I made the change to come to Maryland.

"I could have stayed at Notre Dame," he said a little later. "[But] I needed a fresh start in my life because I was pretty unhappy. I left a lot of people at Notre Dame that I generally do love, and it was hard for me to do that. But so far, I’ve been very happy that I made the change."

Yeatman ranks fourth on the Terps with 26 points on 13 goals and 13 assists. He is still recovering from a sprained right ankle that forced him to miss three games, but he is expected to play against the 15-0 Fighting Irish.

Earlier in the week, Cottle commented on Yeatman’s return to South Bend, saying, "I think it is going to be a weird, unusual feeling. I think the thing to remember is that Will Yeatman cares a great deal about the Notre Dame friends that he has made over the years that he was there. He just happens to play for a different team, and he’s going over to play a lacrosse game. When the game is over, he’s got his friends from Notre Dame and he’s got his friends from Maryland. It’s probably going to be a very eerie feeling for him, but on the same end, he hasn’t stopped communicating with or caring about those guys. He’s just got a new set of friends, too. This game is not going to be about Will. It’s going to be about Maryland and Notre Dame. Both teams are going to prepare hard and play hard and we’ll see who wins."

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:52 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Maryland
        

ESPN's Dixon on NCAA tournament field

ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins midfielder Mark Dixon was kind enough to talk to me about some topics I am working on, and the conversation naturally turned to the NCAA tournament’s 16-team field. The following is a Q&A with Dixon that touches on Loyola’s absence, the easiest and toughest paths to the final four and possible first-round upsets.

Q: Did Loyola deserve to be in the tournament?

Mark Dixon: That’s a tough question to answer because it seems like the criteria is different from year to year. For instance, last year, Georgetown had the big win over Duke and was the only team in regular season to beat Duke. But their strength of schedule and RPI [Rating Percentage Index, a formula that combines a team’s record, its opponents’ record and those opponents’ opponents’ records] weren’t really all that strong and their RPI took a huge hit at the end of the season when they lost to Penn State. So Georgetown doesn’t make it, everybody’s screaming bloody murder, but I’m thinking, ‘That makes sense.’ This year, with Loyola, there were three teams battling for the last two spots in Brown, Maryland and Loyola. Loyola’s strength of schedule and RPI were phenomenal, Maryland’s was competitive but not as good as Loyola’s, and Brown the same thing. With this year, it seemed like the emphasis was on quality wins against top-10 teams, and Brown had one against Cornell, and Maryland had those against Duke and North Carolina. So based on those criteria, I think the selection committee got it right. Where I feel for Loyola is on two levels. I think this is the best team Charley Toomey has had, and I really wanted to see P.T. Ricci and Shane Koppens play at least one more time. And you really give them a lot of credit for beefing up their schedule, playing strong out-of-conference opponents. But at the end of the day, I did think the selection committee did get it right. If you look at the numbers and the body of work, they lost very close games to Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Hopkins. But Brown beat Cornell and a common opponent – UMass. I think that was a good benchmark. Brown beat UMass on the road and Loyola lost to UMass at home. … Does Loyola deserve to be in? Yes. Do they deserve to be in more than Brown and Maryland? Some people might say maybe, but I don’t think anybody’s screaming bloody murder that Brown and Maryland are the two teams selected and Loyola wasn’t. I think people feel bad for Loyola and would have liked to see them play for the reasons I stated, but I don’t think it’s an egregious omission. I think it speaks more to a need for a more established criteria. Is it strength of schedule? Is it RPI? Is it quality wins? It can’t be what is seemingly arbitrary. In 2006, Harvard got in based on SOS and RPI, and Georgetown was left out last year due to SOS and RPI. So I think there needs to be a hard and fast criteria, two or three benchmarks. It can’t be a sliding scale.

Q: Which top-four seed has the toughest road to the Final Four?

MD: I’m looking at Duke. I think they’ve got a pretty tough road with Navy. That’s a real tough first-round game, and then they get the winner of Carolina and UMBC. That’s a pretty tough road. And I don’t think Virginia has it made in the shade. They’ve got a potential second-round match-up with Hopkins, and Hopkins played them down to the wire. The theme of this tournament is offense, and who’s going to be able to stop who. I think this year, you’re looking at some great offenses. So I think Duke has a tough road, and Virginia has a tough one as well. It’s going to be no walk in the park for No. 1.

Q: So does Syracuse or Princeton have the easiest road to the Final Four?

MD: I don’t think anybody has it easy. I think they’ve got the two best first-round match-ups. I’m tickled pink that Siena is in for the first time ever. That’s a program that has been rewarded for making a commitment to lacrosse, and now they’re in the NCAAs. But here’s your reward: playing defending national champion Syracuse in the [Carrier] Dome. And then Princeton with UMass, UMass is mostly a defensive team. Less than half of their goals are assisted. So they rely on a lot of one-on-ones. So how do you beat Princeton? For the most part, you’ve got to move the ball. I think they’ve got the two more favorable first-round match-ups of the top four seeds. But then Princeton has maybe Cornell or Hofstra, and that’s a tough bracket. So I’d have to say Syracuse maybe has the easiest road, but easiest in quotation marks because they’re going to get either Notre Dame, which is going to be undefeated if they meet up, or Maryland, which has the talent."

Q: Which game has the biggest potential for an upset?

MD: I think if UMBC can win some faceoffs, it’s UMBC over North Carolina. And then if you’re looking for another one, Hofstra at Cornell. Hofstra laid an egg in the CAA, but they’re a very good team and they can play any style and they can also come back. We’ve seen them come back from many deficits this year. I think at one point against Brown, they were down by seven. So they can play from behind and they can also win tight games. They’ve got six one-goal wins this year. So I think if I’m looking for a first-round upset, the Hofstra game is No. 1 with UMBC-UNC being No. 2.

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, Navy, UMBC
        

May 4, 2009

Towson's Tony Seaman isn't going anywhere

The season may be over for the Tigers, but the same can’t be said for Tony Seaman’s coaching tenure at Towson.

The only coach in Division I history to aid three different schools to the NCAA tournament, Seaman was informed in a meeting Monday afternoon with school officials that he would be retained for at least another season.

"I’m just looking forward to having this team and my staff and myself back for 2010," said Seaman, who boasts an overall record of 253-148 (a winning percentage of .631) in 26 years and a mark of 89-75 (.543) in 11 years with the Tigers. "We couldn’t be happier to be part of the Towson lacrosse program."

Under Seaman, the Tigers have qualified for the NCAA tournament five times and almost won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and the automatic qualifier last Saturday.

Towson, which finished second in the CAA and lost, 10-9, to Villanova in the tournament final, graduates seven players, including four starters in midfielders Randall Cooper and Justin Schneider, attackman Bill McCutcheon and defenseman Matt Richter, the team’s primary faceoff specialist in Mitchell Rosensweig and a primary short-stick defensive midfielder in Kyle Smedley.

But the Tigers return a good deal of youthful talent and could challenge again for the CAA title.

Posted by Edward Lee at 7:10 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Towson
        

A conversation with selection committee chair Tim Pavlechko

Just talked to Tim Pavlechko, who chairs the selection committee for the NCAA tournament, and he laid out the panel’s process for selecting Brown over Loyola for the ninth and final at-large bid.

Essentially, both teams had impressive records. Although the Greyhounds’ strength of schedule was superior to Brown’s (No. 3 for Loyola compared to No. 32 for the Bears, according to laxpower.com), the gap in their RPIs wasn’t as dramatic (No. 9 for the Greyhounds compared to No. 12 for Brown, according to the NCAA).

The clincher was that the Bears had wins against two tournament teams in Cornell and Massachusetts, while Loyola did not.

"Loyola played a very strong schedule. They had a great year," Pavlechko said. "But they had some losses. They lost to a common opponent – UMass – with Brown. There are some of those other quality wins as you mentioned. There was a quality win [against Cornell] that wasn’t on Loyola’s resume. I’m not saying that’s the ultimate thing. It was the total breadth of work, scope of the season, and all the selection tools of trying to differentiate teams for that last slot."

There seemed to be some consternation that quality wins were being given as much value as strength of schedule and RPI, but Pavlechko pointed out that significant wins are as much a part of the criteria as strength of schedule, RPI, won-loss record and other factors.

"The RPI is certainly a tool for the committee to look at," Pavlechko said. "Strength of schedule is a tool and quality wins and what’s your record against those ranked teams. ... It’s not one thing. They’re all tools that we don’t have in priority order on purpose because otherwise, we could just run the computer and that’s who’s in. I don’t think that’s fair to student-athletes who are on the positive side or negative side of some very tough decisions."

A little later, Pavlechko said, "I think what you found was there were a lot of similarities in terms of strength of schedule for a lot of teams, and so there was a lot more criteria going into play that were differentiating teams. I will say this: that RPI and strength of schedule was certainly a factor, but it was also not the quantitative [end]. You’re looking at the whole picture, what a team has done throughout the year."

Posted by Edward Lee at 5:08 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Loyola
        

Salisbury and Stevenson in Division III tournament

With much attention centered on the Division I tournament, let’s recognize the inclusion of Salisbury and Stevenson in the Division III tournament.

The No. 5 and eight-time reigning national champion Sea Gulls (15-3) earned the automatic qualifier after winning the Capital Athletic Conference tournament and will visit No. 8 Haverford (13-3) in a second-round game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The No. 4 Mustangs (15-1) earned a first-round bye and will play host to the winner of Montclair State-No. 14 Cabrini in the second round on Saturday at 1 p.m.

If both Salisbury and Stevenson win, the teams would meet in a quarterfinal on Wednesday, May 13. The CAC rivals have split the season series with the Mustangs winning, 12-8, on April 4 and the Sea Gulls returning the favor, 13-5, in the CAC tournament final on April 19.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Salisbury, Stevenson
        

May 3, 2009

Postscript from Loyola at Johns Hopkins

The No. 18 Greyhounds have to wait until Sunday to learn of their postseason fate, but they certainly feel as if they’ve done enough to warrant an invitation to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, which begins Saturday.

"We should be in this tournament," senior attackman Shane Koppens said. "We have the record, we have the strength of schedule. You never know what can happen though. I don’t know what the [selection] committee does to choose who makes it or who doesn’t. We’re going to be praying they choose us to play somebody. I don’t care who it is. We can play anybody. Just praying that they give us a shot."

Loyola is thought to be competing with No. 5 Brown (12-3) and No. 13 Maryland (9-6) for one of two coveted at-large bids.

The Terps have won just three of their last seven games and have the lowest RPI of the three (No. 14), but they have beaten two teams ranked in the top 10 in RPI in Duke (No. 2) and North Carolina (No. 8). The Bears’ RPI is just slightly better (No. 12) and they missed out on a chance to win the Ivy League title and the automatic qualifier, but they beat Cornell (No. 10).

The Greyhounds have an interesting case in that they don’t have a win against an opponent in the top 10 in RPI. But they have lost to No. 1 Syracuse, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 9 Johns Hopkins by a combined three goals, own a strength of schedule ranked in the top five, and boast a RPI of nine.

"The committee’s got some challenges," Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said. "If I was to make a statement, I would say we played the third toughest schedule. … You’re playing a quality schedule against some quality teams. Obviously, we thought this was going to be a game we needed to get into the tournament. So we’re going to look at ourselves right now. You hate to rely on other people to get you through.

"But hey, there have been years where it’s come down to the numbers," he continued. "I can remember in 2006, Harvard gets in at 6-6, losing their last three games, and they said, ‘It’s not a numbers thing, it’s a strength-of-schedule thing.’ … So what is it going to be? Is it going to be big wins or numbers? If it’s numbers, we look doggone good. If it’s about big wins, then we might be on the outside looking in."

Other notes:

*Michael Gvozden surrendered 10 goals to Loyola, but the Blue Jays junior looked like the same goalkeeper who powered the school to a NCAA Tournament final appearance last season. He stoned junior attackman Collin Finnerty on an attempt in front of the net in the first quarter, which accounted for one of his 15 saves. Afterwards, Toomey said that was Gvozden’s best performance of the season. "It’s confidence," Gvozden said of his recent turnaround in the team’s six-game winning streak. "I don’t care if people slam me. I’ve had bad games before, but I’ve proven I can do this."

*The Greyhounds didn’t have the services of junior face-off specialist John Schiavone (pulled hamstring), but Michael Atkinson filled the void. The senior won 14 of 26 face-offs, including nine of 12 in the first half. He also scored the team’s second goal of the game when he took a face-off and beat Gvozden. "This year, John and I have been battling," Atkinson said. "In practice, it’s really been whoever is doing better on that day. All season, he’s been doing great. I would say we have confidence that either one of us can do well."

*Loyola junior attackman Cooper MacDonnell had scored a goal in every game this season – until Saturday. Much of the credit goes to Johns Hopkins senior defenseman Matt Drenan, who limited MacDonnell to just one assist and five shots – one of which was on net. "He’s a great player, and he’s had a great season," Drenan said of MacDonnell. "It wasn’t anything specific. I just relied on the help of my teammates." … Koppens finished with two goals and two assists, but he was complimentary of Blue Jays senior defenseman Michael Evans. "He is a hell of a player," Koppens said. "He can play." … Johns Hopkins junior attackman Steven Boyle scored a goal in the second quarter after sitting out the team’s 12-5 victory over Mount St. Mary’s on Monday.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Postscript
        

May 2, 2009

Mount St. Mary's puts T.C. DiBartolo and Matt Nealis on MAAC first team

Goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo and defenseman Matt Nealis were named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference first team.

DiBartolo, a sophomore who graduated from Archbishop Spalding, finished the regular season as the MAAC leader in save percentage (.613) and saves per game (11.9). His goals-against average of 8.03 ranks first on the school’s all-time single-season mark, and he recorded a career-high 21 saves in contests against Virginia and Siena. DiBartolo is the first Mountaineers goalie to make the first team since Dave Lambour in 2003.

Nealis, a second-team selection last season, has started every game as the Mountaineers' top shutdown defenseman. Nealis is tied for the team lead in caused turnovers (14), and he has posted two goals and 12 ground balls. He is the first Mount St. Mary's defenseman to earn first-team honors since Pat Farrell in 2006.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's
        

Towson's Will Harrington and Mitchell Rosensweig get CAA honors

Junior midfielder Will Harrington and senior faceoff specialist Mitchell Rosensweig were voted to represent the Tigers on the All-Colonial Athletic Association first team.

Harrington, a Baltimore native and Friends graduate, leads the team in goals with 23 and ranks second in points with 26. He has registered three four-goal outings this season, including in a 10-2 victory over Drexel in a CAA tournament semifinal Wednesday night.

Rosensweig, a Baltimore native and Pikesville graduate, ranks 11th in the country with a .569 faceoff percentage, and he leads the conference with 107 ground balls. He ranks 10th on the school’s all-time list with 212 career ground balls.

Senior attackman Bill McCutcheon and redshirt freshman defenseman Marc Ingerman were named to the second team. Ingerman was also selected to the All-Rookie team.

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Towson
        

May 1, 2009

Villanova at Towson: Three things to watch

The Tigers have a golden opportunity to not only capture their fourth Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship, but also assure themselves of a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Here are a few things that must turn in Towson’s favor Saturday night so that the team can avoid the anxiety of Selection Sunday:

1) Get Bill McCutcheon involved. The senior attackman leads the Tigers in assists (15) and points (37) for good reason. He’s a strong go-to-the-goal slasher who is deft enough to pass to an open teammate when he senses a slide. And when he is productive, Towson is the immediate beneficiary. In the team’s seven victories this season, McCutcheon has scored 16 goals and registered six assists. In nine losses, he has posted just six goals and nine assists. Only one opponent kept McCutcheon out of the box score. That team? Villanova.

2) Beware the zone defense. Last Saturday, the Wildcats were dismantled by conference leader Hofstra, 10-3. Four days later, Villanova turned the tables, upending the Pride, 9-7, in a CAA tournament semifinal. One of the keys to the Wildcats’ victory was the installment of a zone defense that keyed on Hofstra’s Jay Card and dared the Pride’s shooters to take long-range, low-percentage shots. Villanova may try a similar tactic against the Tigers, which means midfielders like Randall Cooper, Will Harrington and Pat Britton will have to work hard at the corners of the cage to bust that zone and force the Wildcats defenders to extend.

3) Get another solid performance from Rob Wheeler. Towson isn’t asking for another career-high 17-save effort like the one he produced in the 10-2 semifinal win against Drexel Wednesday night, but the junior goalkeeper can provide an emotional boost on the defensive end. The Tigers are 4-2 when Wheeler finishes a game with at least 13 saves. ... Give Mitchell Rosensweig some help. The senior faceoff specialist ranks 11th in the country with a .569 win percentage, but he won just nine of 19 faceoffs in Towson’s 13-4 loss to Villanova on April 8. A solid outing from Rosensweig could translate into longer possessions, more shots, and a lot of goals against the Wildcats. ... Use the home field to the Tigers’ advantage. Towson is 6-2 in the conference tournament when playing at home. The Tigers should be able to utilize crowd support and the friendly confines of Johnny Unitas Stadium to make things slightly uncomfortable for Villanova.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Three things to watch, Towson
        

Loyola at Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

The Charles Street rivalry is renewed with significant ramifications at stake depending on the outcome.

Here are a few game developments that could help determine the result:

1) The Blue Jays rank seventh in the country in offense, averaging 11.3 goals per game. Five players have scored at least 17 goals, and the starting attack of juniors Chris Boland and Steven Boyle, and sophomore Kyle Wharton has combined for 105 points on 69 goals and 36 assists. But Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey is just as concerned about midfielders Michael Kimmel (17 goals and 19 assists) and Brian Christopher (21, 10). "The two of those guys are terrific together and you really have to pick your poison," Toomey said. "We feel like we’ve got a [long-stick midfielder in senior P.T. Ricci] who can play anybody in the country, and the question is, can we defend the other with a short stick or are we going to have to two-pole them as we have in the past?"

2) Loyola isn’t exactly a shrinking violet on offense either, averaging 10.5 goals per contest, which ranks 16th in the nation. Each member of the starting attack – senior Shane Koppens and juniors Cooper MacDonnell and Collin Finnerty – has scored at least 20 goals, and Koppens and Finnerty are 1-2 on the team in assists. In their past five games, Finnerty has recorded 10 goals and seven assists, MacDonnell 14 goals and four assists, and Koppens eight goals and seven assists. That unit will have to produce against a Johns Hopkins defense that has surrendered 9.5 goals per game this season.

3) Watch the battle at the faceoff "X" between the Greyhounds duo of John Schiavone and Michael Atkinson and the Blue Jays pair of Matt Dolente and Michael Powers. ... Johns Hopkins should be riding a wave of emotion as the program honors its senior class and nine new members of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Among the new members are Franz Wittelsberger (Class of 1976), whose 151 career goals stood as a school record until 1995, and Quint Kessenich (1990), who anchored the Blue Jays’ run to the 1987 NCAA championship and is the only Johns Hopkins goalie to earn All-American honors four times in his career. ... Loyola should have plenty of motivation as a win against the Blue Jays would take the suspense out of Selection Sunday and earn the Greyhounds an invitation to the NCAA tournament. "We feel like we hold our cards in our hands in that we need to win the game," Toomey said. "We don’t want it to be a numbers thing. We certainly feel our strength of schedule is a good one and our RPI looks solid right now, but we really would like to take the decision out of the committee’s hands and justify ourselves with a win against Hopkins."

Posted by Edward Lee at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Three things to watch
        

Mount St. Mary's enjoying return to MAAC tournament

After failing to qualify for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in the past two years, Mount St. Mary's coach Tom Gravante challenged his players to avoid a repeat.

Those players not only reached the MAAC tournament for the first time since 2006, but they also finished second, grabbing the No. 2 seed in the tournament, which begins Friday at Canisius. The Mountaineers (5-9 overall and 5-3 in the conference) meet No. 3 seed Manhattan (9-7, 5-3) at 4:30 p.m.

"I told them to get the No. 4 seed, and they did better than that," Gravante said. "... I think they’re capable of potentially winning this. We know there are some things that we need to clean up before Friday, but playoffs create certain types of character in players, and those players who handle the pressure will come out on top. A good example last year is when Johns Hopkins beat Duke. That was the unthinkable in my evaluation. I just didn’t think anyone was capable of beating them. But we all watched Hop pull that off. ... That was impressive, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Playoffs bring out character in kids that could either hurt the team or help the team. I’m asking my kids to get to the playoffs, handle the pressure, and then we’ll go from there."

The Mountaineers rank near the bottom of many offensive categories in the league, but they rank near the top in many defensive areas. While this current squad won’t remind anyone of the offensive-minded teams that won the 2001 and 2003 MAAC tournaments, Gravante has been impressed by his players.

"This young squad has been playing in playoff games since the home loss to Marist [on March 21]," Gravante said. "This year, we’re so young, and we’ve been very deep in terms of who has been scoring goals. That’s a good thing, but we had some impressive young men back then that were going to get their points whether you poled them or not. ... This team has a lot of points spread out. There is promise and bits and pieces of what we had back then, but it’s still to come."

If Mount St. Mary’s can get past the Jaspers, they could get a rematch with No. 1 seed Siena. The Mountaineers actually owned a 5-3 advantage midway through the third quarter of their April 18 contest, but the Saints scored six unanswered goals to win, 9-6.

Gravante said he doesn’t want to look ahead, but he acknowledged being enthused about a potential game against Siena.

"I think anything can happen in the playoffs," he said. "... If we’re fortunate to play good lacrosse and get past Manhattan, anything is possible. We’re very capable of winning it, but we also understand that we have to play good ball."

Posted by Edward Lee at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Mount St. Mary's
        
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