Can Hopkins slow Syracuse?

March 19, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

Scary, isn't it?

No. 1 Syracuse (2-0) has had only three days of practice outdoors, but the Orangemen are off to an uncharacteristically fast start. They've beaten rival North Carolina, 17-10, and Yale, 12-7.

Next up is No. 4 Johns Hopkins (2-1) today at 2 p.m. on the artificial surface of Homewood Field.

"This is all kind of new to me," said Roy Simmons Jr., 58, who has a 231-82 overall record in 23 seasons as coach at Syracuse, XTC including five NCAA Division I championships.

"We usually don't have our legs under us or a lot of stamina at this point of the season," said Simmons, whose team was 1-2 at this time last season. "We're in better shape this time around."

Hopkins may prove to be a major test for the Orangemen, even though this is not one of the better Blue Jays teams.

Hopkins' Tony Seaman always has his teams well-prepared for Syracuse, first when he was coach at Penn from 1983 though 1990 and later when Seaman moved on to Hopkins in 1991.

Seaman was 0-9 against the Orangemen at Penn, but the Quakers and Orangemen staged some of lacrosse's classic battles during the late 1980s, when Syracuse won three straight NCAA titles. Seaman is 2-3 against Simmons at Hopkins, winning once during each regular season in his first two years.

"This is Hopkins-Syracuse, what else can I say?" said Simmons. "When we play Johns Hopkins, you can throw the records out the window.

"Whatever weakness Johns Hopkins has, Tony will find a way to solve it, especially when they're playing us. That's one reason why I like to play them early. They improve so much as the season goes on."

Hopkins will try to find a way to slow down the Orangemen. Even though Syracuse may not be at full strength, the Orangemen still are a running, gunning, high-fiving bunch.

Midfielders Charlie Lockwood (8 goals, 4 assists), Dom Fin (1, 1), and Roy Colsey (3, 0) are perhaps the finest unit in the country. The attack was supposed to be inexperienced, but sophomores Matt Doyle and Jim Morrissey have six and three goals, respectively.

"Syracuse has that ritual with their struts and taunting," said Seaman. "That's always been Syracuse. You might not agree with everything, but look at their wins and losses and you can't argue."

Hopkins has had defensive problems the past two years. The Blue Jays have allowed 39 goals this season, including 20 against Princeton and 12 from Washington College, a Division III team.

Sophomore goalie Jonathan Marcus already has 244 career saves during the past two seasons (16 games). The Blue Jays' defensive situation has become so fragile that Seaman is no longer challenging his defense, but wants the attack to take control and slow the pace against Syracuse. The attack is paced by All-Americans Terry Riordan (15, 5) and Brian Piccola (10, 4).

"I am still very unhappy with the way we are finishing our shots, and it's pretty much the same people we had last year," said Seaman. "We are still working on it and will keep on working. I have that feeling that we're going to explode against somebody. It's just a matter of when."

"If you have a goalie that really hasn't gained his confidence yet, get him in a game with us. We'll make him feel great in goal. We are going to work, and hope to correct that."

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