In all his years in lacrosse, Virginia coach Jim Adams had never seen a college freshman quite like Kevin Pehlke.
This, Adams thought, is a veritable scoring machine. Adams marked his 33rd year on the sideline by watching in wonder as Pehlke set Virginia freshman records with 34 goals and 22 assists and was acclaimed ACC Rookie of the Year in 1990.
"He was as good a freshman as I've ever coached," Adams said. "And I've coached some pretty darn good ones. A couple are in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. But I think a year of maturity has made him even better."
Pehlke, a graduate of Calvert Hall, is a sophomore now. That alone, in Adams' estimation, makes him better.
As the leading scorer on the No. 1 team in the land, Pehlke will arrive for Saturday's game at No. 5-ranked Johns Hopkins with 26 goals (on only 62 shots) and 12 assists for 38 points. He needs only 12 more goals to break the school single-season record set by Chase Monroe in 1988.
"I keep an eye on the stats," Pehlke said. "I'm sure every player does. It serves as an incentive. But it's not really my goal when I go on the field. The team is first, then goals and assists."
hTC None of this is lost on Virginia's opponents, least of all Hopkins coach Tony Seaman. Pehlke commands the enemy's attention. Three weeks ago, he erupted for seven goals and three assists in a 17-10 rout of Loyola.
"I wanted to prove to myself and everyone that I could play in big games and produce points," Pehlke said. "Coaches always say great players produce points in big games."
Said Loyola coach Dave Cottle, "We didn't gear our defense to stop him because it was so early in the year. But teams will play him differently now."
Virginia, which has won six in a row, matching its best start since 1979, is entering the testy portion of its schedule. After Hopkins, the Cavaliers play No. 6 Maryland and No. 2 North Carolina.
Pehlke believes that the real Cavaliers are standing up this season, and that they bear no resemblance to the ones who squandered advantages on occasion last year and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Rutgers.
"This team is different," Pehlke said. "We feel like we've really got something to prove."
The Cavs are rife with Baltimore players. All four Loyola High grads on the squad -- midfielder Garth Appelt, defensemen Ronald Craig and George Glyphis and goalie Tom Groeninger -- have started the last three games. Doug Godine (Gilman) is starting on attack now that Perry Frazer (Severn) is out with a broken arm.
The latest Cavalier to step forward is Gaby Roe, a midfielder from Gladwyne, Pa. Roe is the ACC Player of the Week based on his six goals, three assists and 21-for-26 in faceoffs in victories over Yale and Hobart.
"I certainly wasn't afraid to shoot today," Roe said after tying his career-high with five goals vs. Hobart.
Virginia isn't the only bully that will muscle its way into the state Saturday. No. 2 North Carolina is at No. 6 Maryland and No. 7 Brown is at No. 3 Loyola.
North Carolina (5-0) was the first to slay the giant this season. The Tar Heels brought down three-time defending NCAA champion Syracuse, 10-3, limiting first-team All-America attackman Tom Marechek to a single goal. To be sure, Syracuse is minus the Gait twins, but it was still the Orange's lowest score since a 15-3 loss to Hofstra in 1975.
Dave Klarmann, the Tar Heels' rookie head coach who served as an assistant under Willie Scroggs for 11 years, refused to talk about the Maryland game or any of his players. Indeed, he refused to talk about anything related to lacrosse.
"I don't like to talk about these things," Klarmann said. "I'm not good at it."
And the players on his squad from Baltimore?
"Good kids from nice families," he said curtly.
Among these good kids are Michael Thomas and John Webster, both of Boys' Latin. Thomas has 13 goals, just behind team leader Dennis Goldstein (14), and Webster -- whose 45 points last year set a Carolina freshman record -- is third on the team with eight.