Final trip through the crease will raise curtain for Riordan

March 08, 1995|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

When the last game is over and Terry Riordan has scored his final goal, the Johns Hopkins senior attackman will pack his clothes and try to catch an off-Broadway play.

Not to watch, but to participate.

"I've always been a ham, and I've always wanted to try acting," said Riordan. "I know about a school in New York City, and hopefully I can get an audition, get in and further my studies. But that's down the road a little. Right now I've got some immediate goals to achieve."

The first and foremost is leading Hopkins to a national championship, something the Blue Jays haven't done since 1987. Hopkins, which plays at home against Washington College today, began the quest with Saturday's 15-14 victory over defending champion Princeton.

Riordan has to play a big part. He is college lacrosse's quintessential finisher, 16 goals short of breaking the Hopkins record of 151 set by Franz Wittelsberger (1973-76). Riordan, who scored four times against Princeton, has averaged 44 goals a season.

"We've all heard about Hopkins not winning the title in quite a while," said Riordan. "There are times when I feel like the 49ers' Steve Young. I've got to get this huge monkey off my back."

Riordan has been mixing lacrosse and theater for years, especially after a goal. He's been known to strut, dance or pump a fist in the air. His best move has been dropping to his knees with arms outstretched and palms open after scoring.

"I've talked to Terry about the way he celebrates," said Hopkins coach Tony Seaman. "In all honesty, I just think he gets caught up in the emotion of the game."

Riordan said: "It's nothing personal; it's the emotion. But I'm a little flamboyant, doing things differently than other people. Then there are times I'm just your average college student."

Riordan is the only person to describe himself as average. He likes the heavy metal groups Pantera and Sound Machine, but also enjoys listening to Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Mozart. Riordan, a political science major, also spends a lot of time critiquing movies. His favorite is "The Player."

On the field, Riordan's size (6 feet 5, 220 pounds) separates him from other attackmen. He also has no peer when it comes to the lethal hard shot, and no one can bump and grind, then turn and shoot with as much grace and precision.

"He may be the best left-handed finisher ever," said Loyola College coach Dave Cottle. "How do you stop him? You're asking the wrong person. He scored seven goals against us last year. We're still searching for answers."

Don't get the impression that Riordan simply overpowers defensemen with his size. Riordan was a two-year starter as a high school quarterback in a veer offense and was recruited by a number of Division I-AA schools. He runs a 4.8 40-yard --, and could probably post up any player on the school's basketball team.

"We were playing Navy last year," Seaman said, "and Terry was getting pushed just outside the crease, and then he started falling. While he was going down, almost on the ground, Terry shoots it underhanded at the top corner for a goal. It was an incredible play."

Riordan has two other assets. His armspan is so wide (teammates have nicknamed him "Bird") that it's almost impossible to stick-check the ball once he pulls it back.

And Riordan wants to be the most dominating player on the field.

"Each year, he has improved a part of his game," said Seaman. "He has worked on being a better dodger, and now carries the ball more. There have been times when I've chewed him out at halftime, and he just pats me on the back and says, 'Hey coach, don't give up on me. It's only halftime."

The iron will came from his days at Baldwin (N.Y.) High. Riordan thought he was overlooked for the world under-19 and several All-America teams. Only Hofstra and Massachusetts offered lacrosse scholarships until Seaman called him late in the recruiting period.

"Terry was devastated by not making those teams," said Jim Kaspar, his high school coach. "I remember when I first saw Terry as a junior, and I just figured he was just another big kid who couldn't run. It didn't take long for me to find out he was different. I think since high school Terry has been out to prove to everyone that he's a great lacrosse player."

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