Savage keeps foes on the run

May 08, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

When Janine Tucker took over as coach of Johns Hopkins' women's lacrosse team, outgoing coach Sally Anderson gave her some advice about All-America attack player Rebecca Savage.

"One of the first things Sally told me was 'You've got this kid Becca Savage who can run like I've never seen any other women's lacrosse player run and use her wisely.' "

The first-year coach heeded that advice, and Savage, a Centennial High graduate, is having another sensational season.

An explosive attack wing, Savage scored seven goals in Tuesday's regular-season finale, a 19-4 win at Dickinson. She leads the team in goals with 69 and stands second in points with 77.

The senior has sparked the Blue Jays to the Centennial Conference championship, a 15-0 regular season and the No. 3 ranking in Division III.

"Becca is our go-to player whether she knows it or not," said Tucker. "It comes with her intense desire, when the other team scores, to answer herself. A lot of times, our opponent will score and then Becca has received the draw, cradled through eight to nine defenders and shot and scored, which has only uplifted our team to come back and get some more."

Savage agreed that her greatest asset is her speed. Although she never has been clocked to see just how fast she runs, she's a blue and white blur with the ball.

Since transferring to Johns Hopkins after her freshman year at Lafayette, Savage has learned how to use her speed better.

"Her decision making has improved tremendously," said Tucker. "She sees her openings and she takes them. A lot of times she would run into the triple- and quadruple-teams because she was so focused. Now she's able to back out of that and feed and create plays."

For Savage, becoming more of a team player has only strengthened her game. "Both sets of coaches have encouraged me to be more of a team player, to look for the assist more," she said. "To win a national championship, which is to me the ultimate goal, it's got to be done in a team setting, not five individuals out there doing their own thing."

One of only three unbeaten Division III teams, the Blue Jays certainly seem headed for their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Tomorrow, they will learn their draw when the eight-team field is announced.

Savage, who also played soccer and squash at Hopkins, said the Blue Jays learned plenty from a 20-9 loss to William Smith in last year's Final Four.

"We know what it's like to lose it and that's going to come into play, because we're not going to want it to happen again," said Savage. "We were completely caught off guard by William Smith. They were head and shoulders above us athletically. They were real physical players, and we were not prepared for that."

For Savage, 21, winning the national title would be the culmination of a career that began when her family moved from Michigan and she enrolled at Friends School in Baltimore where she discovered lacrosse.

Junior varsity coaches at Friends tried to turn her into a defender. When she transferred to Centennial a year later, she found her true calling on attack.

"I hate to play defense," said Savage. "I don't like to chase other people. I don't like to read other people's minds. I like them to have to read my mind."

Although recruited to play at Lafayette, she was not happy there, so she applied to Hopkins.

"Coming from Maryland, Hopkins is such a big lacrosse school," said Savage, a history major. "Really it was a whim. I got the letter one day, I said I'm going to Hopkins and I just went. I hadn't talked to the coach or anything. They were surprised I think."

Pleasantly surprised -- as was Tucker, who said Savage easily could play in a Division I program.

"We're very lucky to have her," said Tucker.

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