Final Four has Ivy flavor, but usual Orange scent

May 28, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The NCAA Division I men's lacrosse Final Four may have an Ivy League flavor, but the team to beat is still the nasty boys from Syracuse.

The defending champion Orangemen will play Virginia in the first semifinal at noon today, and Princeton will face Brown at 3 p.m.

tTC It's an interesting Final Four with Virginia making its first Final Four appearance since 1988, and Brown its first ever. Princeton has been here the past two years, but the only regular is Syracuse, which has advanced to the semifinal round every year since 1982.

"I feel like I've been divorced," said Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr. "I've been on the hunt here the last 12 years, and Hopkins and North Carolina have been with me every step of the way."

It's Syracuse that is the hunted. The Orangemen have won four of the past six championships, and were runner-up once. Plus, they are a team a lot of people hate, but everyone loves to watch.

They score goals with an acrobatic flair. They throw behind-the-back passes. They taunt and tease. They run and gun. They don't play zone.

And they win baby, just win.

"My philosophy has always been to coach Monday through Friday, and then let them go on Saturday," said Simmons. "I've always preached dream and fantasies, and being heroic."

Dom Starsia has had to preach something different in two years of coaching at Virginia, a team Brown coach Peter Lasagna calls "that pseudo Ivy League school down there in Charlottesville."

"I'm flattered to be playing a team like Syracuse," Starsia said. "We knew at the beginning of the year that the road to the national championship had to go through Syracuse."

It should be a fast-paced game because both teams like to run. The Princeton-Brown matchup will lack the tempo, but the intensity level may be turned up a notch.

Brown was the only team to defeat Princeton this season, winning, 7-6.

Princeton coach Bill Tierney is playing the revenge motive as his trump card. Lasagna is latching on to that underdog tag.

Brown was 1-4 before winning 12 straight, the nation's longest current winning streak.

"I hope we continue to fluke our way through this tournament even though we're playing very well," said Lasagna. "I enjoy being the underdog, and will try to keep that going."

TODAY'S GAMES

Site: Byrd Stadium

* No. 1-seeded Syracuse vs. No. 5 Virginia, noon

* No. 3 Princeton (12-1) vs. No. 7 Brown, 3 p.m.

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