Nelson, Nazareth become a force 2-time Division III titlist opens vs. Washington Coll.

March 13, 1998|By Jamison Hensley and Katherine Dunn | Jamison Hensley and Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

For years, Nazareth coach Scott Nelson didn't have much to show for his career in lacrosse.

His alma mater, North Carolina State, doesn't even field a lacrosse team now. And the 75-seat stadium in which he started the program has been renovated.

But now, it seems that Nelson is creating history every year as the Nazareth Golden Flyers start their run for a third straight Division III national title.

Nazareth first broke onto the national scene in Nelson's third year, when the Golden Flyers upset Salisbury State. He has since built the program into a powerhouse that lost a majority of its top scorers after last season, yet remains atop the rankings.

"I really didn't realize what I was getting into, since I was young and it was fun," said Nelson, who begins his 14th year as Nazareth's coach. "I probably couldn't do it now. It was fun then just to have a job."

Top-ranked Nazareth opens its season at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field tomorrow against No. 2 Washington College, the runner-up to the Golden Flyers in overtime each of the past two seasons.

"I honestly don't think this will have an impact on the end of the season," Washington College coach John Haus said.

"Whoever wins will move forward and whoever loses will, too. I'm not concerned about winning the first game, just the last game."

Princeton priorities

Although No. 4 Princeton's 29-game winning streak stopped, it isn't ready to give up on its other streak -- its quest for a third consecutive national championship.

"I think the loss has given us a heightened awareness," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said. "When you haven't lost in two years, it's a strange feeling. Now the pressure is on not to lose again."

Upstart programs

Nearly all of the attention early in this women's college lacrosse season has been focused on teams to the south.

Not only have North Carolina and Duke knocked off preseason No. 1 and three-time defending Division I champ Maryland, but each has attained its highest ranking ever in this week's Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association/Brine poll.

The Tar Heels (2-0) are No. 1 in only their third year of existence after edging Maryland on Sunday, 10-9. Add that to an appearance in the final four last year and North Carolina ranks among the fastest-rising programs in NCAA history.

The Blue Devils (3-0) notched their first ACC win against Maryland last Friday, 10-6. That boosted them from No. 14 in the preseason all the way to No. 4 in this week's poll.

Duke coach Kerstin Kimel and North Carolina coach Jenny Slingluff attribute much of their success to maturing teams and outstanding recruiting classes.

"Jenny and I aren't taking anything for granted," said Kimel, a two-time All-American at Maryland.

"Coming into a new program, we have that energy and we don't have any laurels to rest on."

Kimel and Slingluff, a Roland Park graduate, have had great success recruiting in Baltimore. Kimel has seven Baltimore-area women on her team and Slingluff has 16.

"We've been very fortunate. We've landed some great athletes and some great lacrosse players," said Slingluff, a two-time All-American at Virginia and last year's ACC Coach of the Year. "Maryland had that unbelievable core of players the last four years and I think the wealth is beginning to be spread around a little more."

No word from Towson

Lack of communication likely cost Towson's women's lacrosse team a Top 15 ranking this week.

The Tigers knocked off preseason No. 15 Rutgers, 11-8, in Sunday's season opener, but word didn't get to the ICWLA in time for this week's poll.

Delaware moved into the 15th spot, even though it had not yet played a game, while the Tigers remained among those receiving votes.

"I'm disappointed," said Tigers coach Ashley Duncan, whose team was ranked in the Top 15 last season.

"It's one of those intangibles I don't have much control over and the kids understand what happened. But if you go by who beat whom, we did beat a ranked team."

The Tigers will try again to crack the Top 15 when they travel to Lafayette tomorrow.

Pub Date: 3/13/98

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