It may be premature, but several area coaches say Navy's Bryan Matthews should be Coach of the Year.
The Midshipmen were not impressive in the fall, losing even to Division III Nazareth. Then Navy lost its first two games this spring, 16-9 to Penn State and 10-9 to Virginia.
Since then, Navy, ranked No. 7, has won eight of nine. In the past three, Navy has held Maryland and Towson to a combined five goals.
Matthews points to the development of attackmen Gardner Smith (27 goals, 10 assists), Matt Pawlikowski (12, 18) and Rob Bailey (11, one) and the outstanding play of goalie Kevin Farrington (.710 save percentage), but some of the credit has to go to Matthews. Six freshmen are playing regularly.
"When it comes to Coach of the Year, Bryan Matthews is the first name that comes to mind, and that's it," Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said.
Said Loyola coach Dave Cottle: "That team could have easily folded after losing the first two games. But Bryan has held them together. When you can hold a team like Towson State and Maryland to under five goals, that's incredible."
Matthews said: "Hey, I'm not touching that stuff [awards]. We still have games to play. But I've felt all along that we could be a successful program, despite all the things people said about us after the fall. By successful, I mean being competitive and winning a few big games."
* GROUNDED: Syracuse midfielder Charlie Lockwood has scored six goals in two games, but his claim to fame is a shot that he missed.
Wednesday against Cornell, Lockwood tried an Air Gait, a move from behind the goal made famous by Syracuse midfielder Gary Gait a few years ago. Lockwood, though, ended up crashing into the back of the net.
The move earned him a nickname from team trainer Tim Neal: "Ground Chuck."
* PLANTING SEEDS: Seedings are important at most tournaments, but Maryland coach Dick Edell said they won't have much impact on the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Friday and Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park. North Carolina, the defending national champion and top seed, opens with Virginia at 6 p.m., and Maryland plays Duke in the second game, which starts 30 minutes after the first ends.
"There is no real blessing in being the top seed," Edell said. "It's four playoff-caliber teams in one tournament. Anything can happen."
AROUND THE CREASE: Maryland's Andy Claxton is leading the ACC in faceoffs with a win percentage of .630. . . . Maryland hasn't won the ACC title in the three years of the tournament. North Carolina has won all three, defeating the Terps, 18-8, in last year's championship game. . . . Loyola's attack had been in a slump most of the season, so the Greyhounds had to look to their midfield for scoring. Midfielders Mark Nugent (Calvert Hall) and Gary Miller are tied for third in scoring with 18 points. Both are transfers to Loyola, Nugent from C.W. Post and Miller from Essex Community College. Nugent also has won 50 percent of his faceoffs.
Syracuse senior attackman Tom Marechek needs to average six goals in his last five games (including playoffs and national championship) to break the USILA career scoring record of 193 set by North Carolina State's Stan Cockerton. Gait had 192 career goals. . . . Syracuse is going after its fifth straight 10-win season. The Orangemen have had 10 wins in nine of the past 10 years. . . . UMBC attackman Steve Marohl's assault on the single-season assists mark (73) was held up in the Retrievers' 22-7 loss to Loyola on Saturday. Marohl had two goals, but no assists. He has 70 for the season with two games left.