Moments after No. 3 Johns Hopkins upset No. 1 Syracuse, 15-14, Orangemen coach Roy Simmons stopped in mid-interview and took a few menacing steps toward the stands and glared at a heckler.
"You're a loser, Simmons," the fan bellowed. "Take your team and go home."
Simmons took the bait. "Hey, big mouth," he retorted, "come down here and say that."
With surprising calm, Simmons then resumed the interview, grumbling that the fan "probably never played the game" but admitting that "I should have turned a deaf ear to it."
It had been a trying afternoon for Syracuse. Not only was the crowd of 5,580 on Simmons' case, but the Hopkins defense was also all over brilliant attackman Tom Marechek, holding him to one goal and frustrating him into taking a penalty that led to the winning score.
With the score tied 14-14, Marechek lost his temper, decked a Hopkins player and drew a penalty.
got clipped from behind after the go-ahead goal and the official missed the call, then he retaliated," Simmons said. "He shouldn't have, of course.
With the man advantage, Hopkins midfielder Adam Wright whistled a bullet from 18 yards into the upper corner of the goal with 1:42 left to send Syracuse home with its first loss after two victories. The goal was Wright's third of the day.
Marechek, a two-time first-team All-America, had scored at least three goals in 14 straight games. Hopkins (2-1) contained him by assigning defenseman Nick Shevillo and midfielder Matt Jackson shadow him.
"Matt, with his short stick, guarded him on faceoffs and on settled clears," Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "Nick had him when Marechek had the ball or figured to get it and in regular man-to-man defense situations."
Simmons conceded that Seaman's strategy was effective.
"Hopkins did a nice job on Tommy," Simmons said. "They shut him off with that short stick. That's good coaching. They got fabulous goalie play, and that hurt us, too."
Blue Jays goalie Scott Giardina, who surrendered nine goals to Marechek in two games last year, had 19 saves and stopped Marechek twice from point blank range.
"They were two magnificent saves," Seaman said.
Remembering his brush with Marechek last season, Giardina worked with Ron Klausner, an assistant coach who plays indoor lacrosse and can mimic Marechek's faking.
"He simulated Marechek's fakes all week in practice," Giardina said. "But it was more than me. The guy is superhuman, so it took the whole team to shut him down."
The score was tied 11 times, the last at 14-14. Only three times did a team have a two-goal lead, Hopkins at 8-6 and 9-7 and Syracuse at 13-11 with 8:02 left.
At that point, the Blue Jays tied it again on two goals within 20 seconds by freshman Terry Riordan and senior Jeff Wills. After Jamie Archer again gave Syracuse the lead, Riordan came back with his third goal to tie it before Wright won it.
"When you're No. 1, it's harder to stay there than to get there," Simmons said. "Hopkins had more intensity. We didn't play smart and a couple of the kids lost their temper."
So, too, did Simmons when the heckler's jibes penetrated his hide. It was that kind of day for Syracuse.
Yesterday's upset is bound to cause changes in the Sun's To 10 poll. Loyola, which is No. 2, beat Massachusetts yesterday.
So who will be No. 1 now, Loyola or Johns Hopkins?
The Blue Jays will travel to No. 9 Virginia this Saturday. Loyola will be in the Brown Invitational in Providence, R.I., with Syracuse, No. 8 Duke and the host team. Loyola could very well meet Syracuse in Sunday's championship game.