Revenge is Jays' prod against No. 1 Terps Memories of '95 loss color Hopkins plans

April 13, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Ask anyone associated with the Johns Hopkins lacrosse program last season, and he can recite the numbers. A year hasn't diminished the memory or the disappointment.

The Blue Jays took 19 shots in the first quarter and scored only one goal -- a bad omen. By game's end, they had suffered one of the most agonizing defeats in Hopkins lacrosse history.

The Blue Jays were unbeaten and ranked No. 1 going into that NCAA tournament semifinal against Maryland in College Park. Primed for their first championship since 1987, they left with a shocking, 16-8 loss that still lingers among Hopkins players and coaches.

"It's a different year," said senior attackman Dave Marr, "but you definitely have that bad taste in your mouth."

For Marr, one of the nation's best passers, it's especially bitter. He was shut out for the third time in his career: no goals, no assists, and every reason to look forward to today's rematch at Hopkins in the 90th meeting between the schools.

Maryland (7-1) is ranked No. 1 in the USILA coaches' poll; the Blue Jays (4-2) are fourth. They lead the series, 55-33-1, including a 16-15 win last April in College Park, but that's not the game Hopkins remembers.

"It's going to be fun to get them back," said Marr, who leads the Blue Jays in scoring with 10 goals and 17 assists. "It's Homecoming, and there should be a lot of people there. It's not a game where you have to search for things to get excited about. It's right there."

What's missing are two of the most prolific goal scorers to play at Hopkins, All-Americans Terry Riordan and Brian Piccola. Without them, Marr is being looked upon for more than just fancy passing as the lone returning attackman.

"He's had the ball in his stick more, and now he's not only an assist feeder, he's a go-to-the-goal guy for us," said coach Tony Seaman. "He's handled the change well. Dave Marr's probably the smartest lacrosse player I've ever coached."

Marr, who had 23 goals and 38 assists last season, said he never felt that he was hidden in the shadows of Riordan and Piccola, but what happened last March in a 22-13 upset of then-No. 1 Virginia seemed typical. Marr netted three goals that day, but Piccola had four and Riordan six, making him the career leader at Hopkins.

"They just happened to score more goals, and people who do that get more recognition," said Marr, an honorable-mention All-American last spring. "It didn't bother me at all."

Hopkins junior defenseman Brian Kuczma can't help but notice Marr. They attended the same high school in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and often are matched against each other in practice.

"I've been playing against him since the sixth grade," Kuczma said. "He keeps you on your toes. You tend to go after him more because he's a feeder, but all of a sudden he switches gears and becomes a dodger. He's one of the most difficult guys to cover."

Marr is 11 assists shy of the school record of 123 held by current assistant coach Joe Cowan. And though his role has expanded, he's still known more for his ability to distribute the ball.

"That hasn't diminished at all. He has a gift," Seaman said. "You teach a lot of things in this game and you can help people get a lot better in a lot of areas, but if a kid can't see the field, he can't see the field. I'm not sure how you ever get them to do that. He came with that gift. And it's like riding a bicycle. You don't forget how."

But it does become trickier when so many newcomers are placed beside you. Marr and freshman Dan Denihan (13 goals, two assists) filled two of the starting attack positions, but the third has been shared by junior Brad Berzins (six goals) and freshman Jason Moolenaar (two goals). Sophomore Adam Bond and freshman Dan Collins also were added to the mix, and both scored a goal in last Saturday's overtime win against Army.

"It was always wonderful for him for three years to have Nos. 19 and 9 to be throwing it to, because you were pretty sure it was going to wind up in the back of the cage. Now, he's had to learn to play with new people," Seaman said. "David's had to learn their tendencies, their cuts, their moves. He knew everything that Riordan and Pic were going to do."

Said Marr: "It's been interesting. I have a little more responsibility. I've found that I have to be more vocal and lead the team more, make more decisions. It's something I enjoy."

Seaman said it's the coaches who dwell most on last year's tournament loss.

"The players who it affected the most are working on Wall Street right now or in acting class," he said. "It was one of the hardest, most disappointing defeats that a Hopkins team has suffered. . . . I remember it, when I mow the lawn or am walking around the house or I see something from '95. But I'm not sure the kids think about it."

Some of them do.

"We've been looking forward to this game since last year's loss," Kuczma said. "It's still fresh in all our minds."

Still, Marr said: "I'd like to come out and treat them pretty badly and say we got them back, but it really doesn't mean anything because it's not even the playoffs. It won't erase what happened last year."

Pub Date: 4/13/96

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