Win over Hopkins would serve Towson well

April 28, 1995|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

The logic is simple, but the task is great.

If No. 15 Towson State (5-4) wants to get into the 12-team Division I playoffs, all the Tigers have to do is defeat unbeaten and No. 1 Johns Hopkins (10-0) tomorrow night at 8 at Minnegan Stadium.

That's it?

"If we beat them, then why shouldn't we get in?" said Towson State coach Carl Runk. "Hopkins is a fantastic lacrosse team and they're No. 1. If we accept the challenge and beat them, then, in my opinion, we should get in."

Towson has rebounded with four straight wins after consecutive losses to No. 5 Maryland, No. 12 Penn State, No. 2 Syracuse and seventh-ranked Loyola. The wins, over Bucknell, Delaware, Navy and UMBC, haven't come against Top 10 teams, but Runk doesn't think his team should be penalized for the losses, either.

"Losing to Top 10 teams shouldn't hurt and I think our schedule speaks for itself," said Runk. "We've been competitive against Maryland and Syracuse, but that Penn State loss really hurt."

While the top eight seeds in the tournament already seem set, three of the last four positions are still up for grabs. No. 9 Brown still has to play No. 17 Cornell, Maryland and No. 11 Massachusetts. Massachusetts has Syracuse, Brown and Army left on the schedule, and No. 10 Hobart must face Maryland, Boston College and No. 8 Princeton. Penn State has only Delaware remaining, but No. 13 Georgetown has Loyola and Lehigh left. Notre Dame, ranked 14th, probably will get the automatic Midwestern team bid.

Terps take shots

Maryland's loss to North Carolina last Friday in the opening round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament was the second straight for the Terps, and with games this weekend against Hobart and Brown, Maryland could drop into the bottom half of the Top 10 poll.

So with a possible high seed at stake, Maryland coach Dick Edell began taking shots at some of his ACC opponents before leaving Carolina.

"I'm glad we're going to the Fleet Classic," Edell said. "If it was Mount St. Mary's or UMBC . . . we need two worthy opponents. I'm glad it's not Canisius or Stony Brook or UMBC."

And who do the other ACC teams have coming up?

No. 4 Duke gets Canisius and No. 3 Virginia meets UMBC this weekend and No. 6 North Carolina plays Stony Brook on May 7.

"Canisius, Stony Brook?" said Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr., snickering.

Count on Syracuse

Death, taxes and Syracuse's making another late-season run for the championship.

After early-season, back-to-back losses to Virginia and Hopkins coming at, of all places, the Carrier Dome, there were questions concerning the Orangemen. But Syracuse has put together a string of six victories that has pushed it back to No. 2 in the polls, and the Orangemen seem headed for their 13th straight Final Four appearance.

"We're surviving with two weeks left," said Simmons. "If we keep our noses clean, we could get a bye and end up practicing at College Park. Since that clinic Virginia gave us,

matured. And after the nice job our kids did of handling Loyola, they seem willing to pay that extra mile."

Terps ready for task

Maryland officials have promised that the nightmare for fans who attended the Maryland-Hopkins game at Byrd Stadium on April 15 won't reappear at the Final Four, for which the Terps will play host later next month.

Because of construction to Byrd Stadium, fans were allowed to enter only the South Gate, which created extremely long lines, especially for late arrivals and hard-partying tailgaters. The construction also limited seating.

"The whole stadium will be opened," said Gothard Lane, Maryland's assistant athletic director. "We'll kill the seats in the end zone as we always do, but the upper concourse will be cleared, and over 30,000 seats will be available.

"Right now, we're about a month ahead of last year's pace," Lane said of present ticket sales estimated at about 7,000 to 8,000. "We're encouraged, and if we get the right combination of teams and fan support, this event could really blossom."

Deserving Irish

If Notre Dame gets higher than a No. 12 seed for the Division I tournament, it would silence some of the critics who have argued against a Midwestern team getting an automatic bid since the mid-1980s, when the tournament expanded from eight to 12 teams.

The bid to a Midwestern team was forced upon the lacrosse's selection committee by the NCAA, and often left a more deserving team such as Maryland, Navy, Towson and Duke out of the playoffs.

But Notre Dame (6-4) had held its own this year, barely losing to Penn State, 15-14; North Carolina, 11-8; Princeton, 6-4; and Massachusetts, 10-9.

"The No. 12 seed has never won a game, but this is their best team," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said of Notre Dame. "I wouldn't be surprised if they got the 11th seed. They've been respectable and can compete with most of the top teams."

Massachusetts coach Greg Cannella said: "I'll go along with whatever the NCAA says, but I think the bid should depend on the season. If the Midwestern team is deserving, then they should get it, and if not, they shouldn't. Notre Dame, though, is having a very legitimate season."

The Irish have four area players on the team -- attackmen Ned Webster (Boys' Latin) and Tim Kearney (Calvert Hall), midfielder Willie Sutton (St. Mary's) and defender Dave Notarangelo (St. Paul's). Sutton is the team's second-leading scorer with 19 goals and 16 assists. Kearney is fourth with 13 goals and an assist.

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