On face of it, Goers, Jacobs are unlikely stars

May 13, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

Two years ago, Mark Goers weighed more than 250 pounds and was a stranger to the upper echelons of lacrosse.

Three years ago, 6-foot-5 Peter Jacobs weighed offers to play basketball in the Atlantic 10 and Metro conferences.

They don't have the backgrounds you would expect for two of the premier faceoff men in college lacrosse. The rivals will collide for the second time in two weeks tomorrow at Homewood Field (3 p.m.), when Jacobs and Johns Hopkins meet Goers and Towson State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Jacobs has won a solid 60.4 percent (154-101) of his faceoffs this season, but Goers has bettered that, taking 78.2 (151-42).

How good is Goers?

Five days ago, Loyola beat Johns Hopkins, but Jacobs dominated the draws, 23-8. A week earlier, the Blue Jays held off Towson State, but Goers owned Jacobs in the circle, winning 16 of 18 faceoffs.

"Goers is the best in the country," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "He's the most dominant faceoff man I've seen in a couple of years."

Goers began the year by winning a Towson State-record 21 faceoffs in a rout of Villanova, and ended it with another Tigers record, 116 ground balls in a season. A year ago, Goers said he would "get a faceoff, pass it to somebody who knew what they were doing and get off the field," but his skills have grown, as indicated by his 13 goals this season.

Since September 1992, he's progressed from being an overweight, unknown entity to a faceoff specialist to a respected first-team midfielder. But Goers still is just a sophomore with rough edges.

His high school in Northern Virginia didn't add the sport until his ,, junior year, and Goers discovered how limited his lacrosse education had been when he arrived at Towson State.

"The game was in its fledgling state when I played [in Northern Virginia], but I thought we were playing pretty good lacrosse," said Goers, 23. "I'm still in awe of how big lacrosse is here."

The Tigers were in awe of how big Goers was in 1992. He was a standout 185-pound wrestler at Fairfax (Va.) High in 1989-90, but during a year of inactivity as a part-time student at a community college and another at Towson State gaining his eligibility, he gained more than 60 pounds.

"Recruits are always playing up their ability, and he [Goers] told me he was a good faceoff man," Towson State assistant Jeff Clarke said. "I said, 'You can't even bend over.' He said, 'I'm a midfielder,' and I told him, 'You can't even run across the road.' We tell everyone else we recruited the heck out of him, but the fact is, he's a walk-on."

Goers, 6 feet and about 225 pounds now, is continuing the Towson State tradition of good athletes unheralded in lacrosse becoming All-Americans. Remember Rob Shek? He was lightly recruited out of Bel Air High, but was the nation's best midfielder in 1991.

Goers credits his progress to another Harford Countian, Tim Lucky. The two practice partners split faceoff duties last season, but this spring Goers has added some technical skills to his brute force and he's gotten approximately two-thirds of the work. "Tim is the best faceoff man I've ever seen," Goers said. "I've stolen all his moves."

Goers didn't figure in settled situations until this season, but Jacobs did everything but face off for Hopkins the past two years. The job that was Steve Vecchione's became Jacobs' this season.

"We thought we were going to do faceoffs by committee this season, but Peter really emerged," Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "He's our best defensive midfielder and one of our best offensive midfielders. He just happens to be our best faceoff man. I think he deserves to be a first-team All-American."

Jacobs has 15 goals, four assists and 131 ground balls on the Blue Jays' first midfield, but the junior can't seem to get enough work.

"I didn't think I'd be taking this many faceoffs this year, but I don't mind," Jacobs said. "Sometimes, I get frustrated when they pull me because they think I'm tired. The coaches will say, 'You've got to be dead tired,' but I'm not."

Jacobs' versatility for Manhasset (N.Y.) High helped him land a spot with the Blue Jays, but he was also a do-it-all type in basketball. He averaged 18 points and 15 rebounds as a senior, and turned down scholarship offers from Rhode Island, Tulane and others to pursue lacrosse.

Jacobs saw Kevin Anderson play Division I basketball and lacrosse for Loyola, and considered playing basketball for the Blue Jays, a perennial participant in the NCAA Division III tournament. He has a double major in the social sciences, however, and decided to concentrate his athletic interests on lacrosse.

Being 6-5 might be an advantage on the baseline, but a low center of gravity is preferred for faceoffs.

"I wouldn't say I'm the ideal height for a faceoff man," Jacobs said, "but I haven't been 5-10 since I was in the eighth grade. In high school and college, I've always been taller than the other guy."

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