Blue Jays 'earn' 15-7 win at UNC Freshman midfielders provide spark as Hopkins squares record at 3-3

March 30, 1997|By Rick Dorsey | Rick Dorsey,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- If Johns Hopkins' lacrosse season progresses the way coach Tony Seaman believes it will, the Blue Jays can point to their resounding 15-7 road win over North Carolina yesterday as the turning point.

Who needs to wait for the season to end? Seaman is pointing to it right now.

"This was World War III for both teams," the coach said. "So now, instead of us being 2-4 and fighting for our lives, 3-3 looks and feels a lot better.

"This was our best 60-minute effort to date. We've had some good 30-minute games, but this was a great win."

Eighth-ranked Hopkins stopped its discouraging two-game skid by enveloping the No. 10 Tar Heels (2-5) early. Then the Jays quelled a minor North Carolina run with eight straight goals to cinch the win before 1,329 at Fetzer Field.

"Gut-check, gut-check, gut-check," were the words of Hopkins' Dan Denihan as he walked off the sun-drenched field. "You don't know how bad we needed this win. It feels good because we played well for 60 minutes. We didn't sneak out of here with a win. We earned this."

That the Jays did, jumping out to 4-0 and 7-1 leads by controlling the offensive pace and with keeper Brian Carcaterra stopping 12 shots.

The heat and humidity gave Seaman the necessary excuse to unleash his freshman midfield line, and Marc DiGiovanni, Justin Shaberly and Dave Rabuano were all the coach could ask for.

The end results: Not only did the starters re-enter the fourth quarter with more spring, the Blue Jays received some unexpected offensive production.

DiGiovanni scored Hopkins' second goal on a point-blank shot off a Dudley Dixon feed, and Shaberly netted his first goal this season midway through the second quarter.

"With them out there, I think it helped the whole team because we all had fresher legs as the game wore on," said Dave Marks, who added back-to-back fourth-quarter scores.

Said Seaman: "I've been thinking about it now for a while, how we had to get those young guys in there for balance. I'm happy it worked out like it did."

Not many Jays were happy after their last two mirror-image losses, in which they played well for 30 minutes, only to allow Syracuse (a 14-13 loss March 15) and Virginia (a 16-12 loss March 22) too many open windows of opportunities.

As the Tar Heels bridged the second and third quarters with five consecutive goals, cutting the Jays' lead down to 7-6, visions of another collapse kept creeping into Denihan's mind.

"Oh yeah, it was there," he said. "I had seen it too many times the last two weeks not to think about it."

Matt O'Kelly's second goal -- with 5: 10 remaining in the third quarter -- erased Carolina's comeback hopes.

O'Kelly, a sophomore midfielder, snatched a Denihan pass and found himself with an open shot from 10 yards. UNC goalie Brooks Brown, staring at O'Kelly with the high sun in his eyes, never had a chance.

"We never gave Brooks any help," Carolina coach Dave Klarman said. "Based on this game, none of my guys could play at Johns Hopkins. They could practice, but they wouldn't play. We were out-hustled, we were out-toughed, and it all happened on our own field.

"If we keep playing like this, I wouldn't be surprised if we get thrown out of the ACC."

Pub Date: 3/30/97

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