Hopkins takes hit on offense, but defense may come to rescue

Lacrosse notebook

February 28, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Poor Johns Hopkins.

The Blue Jays have lost Terry Riordan and Brian Piccola, the most prolific goal-scorers in school history. Dave Marr, the lone returning attackman, is coming off back surgery. Midfield ace Milford Marchant is out with a bad ankle sprain, and coach Tony Seaman has no idea how his team is going to survive a March lineup of No. 1 Syracuse, No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Princeton.

Seaman will paint a bleak outlook, but anyone who doesn't think the Blue Jays will make their 25th straight NCAA tournament hasn't been paying attention to the way Hopkins reloads talent.

Aside from the normal bevy of freshmen with All-America credentials, the Blue Jays usually add a key transfer. Next year's model will be attackman Dudley Dixon, who has to sit out a season after leaving Towson State. This year's is defenseman John Gagliardi, a junior who spent two seasons at Virginia.

The Blue Jays returned three regulars on defense, but Gagliardi will start when Hopkins opens Saturday (2 p.m.) against Princeton at Homewood Field. He scored six times in preseason scrimmages, and has made a huge impression on Seaman.

"If he plays as well as he can, he can be Defenseman of the Year," Seaman said of Gagliardi.

Gagliardi is from Manhasset (N.Y.) High, a Long Island prep powerhouse that also produced freshman Dan Denihan. Denihan will team on attack with Marr and Brad Berzins, a junior out of Dulaney High who began his college career at Maryland. Berzins is a converted midfielder who sat out in 1994, and had two goals and an assist last year.

"We're strongest at the defensive end, and it's the first time I've said that in a long time," Seaman said. "We have to be patient."

No more mud at UMBC

Preseason practice is hardest on the schools that don't have artificial turf, and this is the last season in which UMBC will be in that crowd. On May 6, the Retrievers will begin a $2.15 million stadium project that will include artificial turf and an eight-lane track.

"Let's be realistic. Around here, lacrosse needs artificial turf in January, February, March and part of April," athletic director Charlie Brown said. "Every year our coaches are fighting for gym time, practicing on parking lots or trying to go to other schools to practice. I think it will help dramatically in practice and recruiting."

Weather permitting, the Retrievers will open at home Saturday against Rutgers, and coach Don Zimmerman will start freshman R. J. Degenfelder in the goal. He had 11 saves off the bench in a 14-13 loss to Navy.

Get the NAC

The North Atlantic Conference championship could be decided Saturday, when Hofstra visits Towson State. It's the Tigers' first year in the NAC, where the Flying Dutchmen and Delaware provide the most competition. Towson State also picked up Drexel, Vermont, Hartford and New Hampshire, but its strength of schedule wasn't severely affected since it dropped Villanova, Penn State, Bucknell and C.W. Post.

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