Princeton tops Hopkins Defending champ rallies in opener for 13-11 victory

March 07, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

It didn't take John Burstein and Scott Conklin long to answer a question that had tormented Princeton's lacrosse faithful for weeks.

With the graduation of Justin Tortolani, the school's career goals leader with 120, including 33 last season, what would the defending NCAA champions do for goals?

Enter Burstein and Conklin. In the final 19 minutes yesterday, Burstein and Conklin combined for five unanswered goals to lead Princeton to a 13-11 victory over Johns Hopkins before 5,793 at Homewood Field in the opener for both teams.

Conklin, who had only two goals last season, had three of Princeton's final five and a game-high four. Burstein, who lost out to Conklin for the starting attack spot left by Tortolani, scored the other two in Princeton's final push.

"All year we've been talking about who would replace Justin," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said. "We didn't figure it would be one individual but hoped a combined effort would produce something."

In a game that had been tied three times, Johns Hopkins took a 10-8 lead on the last of Terry Riordan's three goals with 4:37 left in the third quarter.

It was then that Conklin and Burstein went to work on their string of five, turning a two-point deficit into a 13-10 lead with 3:18 left.

"That's when our offense got rattled," Riordan said, "and I was the main culprit. I was thinking about how I could score as soon as I got the ball. I was taking it to the cage, rushing, when I shouldn't have. I should have kept my head up and looked for someone."

Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman considered the fourth quarter a complete team breakdown, offense and defense.

"Princeton didn't win," Seaman said. "We kept turning the ball over to them. We threw the ball to ridiculous places. They didn't ride us. We just threw it away, and when we did it cost a goal."

Scott Bacigalupo, a Princeton junior who was acclaimed the nation's premier goalie last season, looked at the fourth quarter from a different perspective. Johns Hopkins scored only one goal in the period (by Peter Jacobs with 1:07 left), a tribute, Bacigalupo maintained, to Princeton's defense.

"My hat's off to my three defensemen," he said. "One goal. That's defense."

Hopkins may have lost the game, but Seaman found a goalie.

He deliberated most of the week over whether to start senior John Banks or Jonathan Marcus, a freshman from Lynbrook, N.Y. He settled on Marcus, based on his strong play in the preseason games, even though it meant throwing a rookie to the defending NCAA champions on opening day.

"He played real well," Seaman said. "Of the 13 goals, all but one was inside five yards."

Marcus received counsel from Riordan, who as a freshman last year had four goals and two assists in his Johns Hopkins debut, also against Princeton. He led the Blue Jays that day to a 15-14 win.

"He told me to play like it was a high school game, that the pressure

wasn't that bad," Marcus said. "I was nervous but excited. Once I got my first save, it was just like any other game."

After a pause, Marcus said, "But it was more intense than any game I've ever played."

The seasoned Bacigalupo, a St. Paul's grad, empathized with Marcus.

"I was so hyped up in the first quarter I was going past the ball with my stick when I went to make a save," Bacigalupo said. "Hey, first game, Homewood Field, Johns Hopkins. I don't know if you need much more than that to get hyped."

As Riordan stood outside John Hopkins' locker room reviewing the defeat, his voice was hard and his face like granite.

"That was a tough loss," he said. "But we'll see them again."

D8 If so, it will be in May during the NCAA tournament.

Princeton 4 3 2 4 -- 13

Johns Hopkins 5 2 3 1 -- 11

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