Poor start may end Heels' tourney streak 2-5 North Carolina has been to 17 straight

April 01, 1997|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Don't use hard luck as an excuse for the North Carolina men's lacrosse team.

Losing four of their five games by a goal to ranked teams, the Tar Heels are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years, which would end the second-longest current postseason streak. Johns Hopkins has the longest, 25.

"We don't belong in the NCAA tourney playing like this," said North Carolina coach Dave Klarmann after the Tar Heels lost to Hopkins by eight goals Saturday. "We shouldn't be there. We are not a tourney team.

"I'm not concerned about the NCAA tourney. I'm concerned about this team becoming a team."

North Carolina (2-5), which is off to its worst start in 30 years, has won all but two Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments. The Tar Heels have nine games remaining -- assuming they win their first-round ACC tournament game -- and would have to face four Top 10 teams.

North Carolina's down year has highlighted a tight ACC season. Every conference game has been decided by one goal, including Virginia's double-overtime victory over Maryland on Saturday.

"Get your tickets now," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "I don't think there is any better advertisement than these games."

Syracuse surprise

For Loyola, it was the worst possible scenario: Syracuse lost to Brown, 18-10, Saturday at the Carrier Dome.

Those are the same Bears the Greyhounds beat by eight goals two weeks ago. But the Orangemen, who play Loyola at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, have lost back-to-back games only once in 15 years.

"Honestly, if I could have had 20 guesses at the score of that game, I wouldn't have been close," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "Everybody is beating everybody right now. We can only control how we play."

And Syracuse, which has suffered two upsets in the first month of the season, isn't panicking. The Orangemen have a 23-1 record in the second half of the past four seasons.

"The sun will come up tomorrow," Syracuse coach Roy Simmons said. "Some time around 7: 03, I think."

Looking for a turnaround

For the second straight year, Towson State has started the season 1-3. But last year, the Tigers turned their season around by winning seven of their final eight regular-season games and receiving an NCAA tournament bid.

Towson is looking to repeat that same April success.

"We're traditionally slow out of the blocks," Towson coach Carl Runk said. "We have started to improve and catch up. There's no second chances in this position."

The Tigers will also have some added scoring with the return of starting attackman Matt Clune, who missed a game with an injury from what the official report calls "an unprovoked incident that occurred off campus."

Pub Date: 4/01/97

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