PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Three NCAA championships in a row. Four of the last five. An unparalleled run of five titles in seven years.
If that's not a dynasty, what is?
"Dynasty is a word that people use all of the time," Princeton attackman Jesse Hubbard said after the Tigers wrapped up their latest NCAA title with a 15-5 romp over Maryland yesterday. "It's kind of hard to describe when you're a part of it, because you're still making it. It just looks like a good run now."
Before Princeton stamped itself as the team of the '90s, the standard for sustained excellence had been five championships in an eight-year span by Johns Hopkins (1978 to 1985) and Syracuse (1988 to 1995).
Princeton became the third school to win three straight championship games. Syracuse, which had done it most recently, won from 1988 to 1990, but the last title was vacated by the NCAA over violations. Roy Simmons retired as the Orange coach with six titles, and Princeton's Bill Tierney has gotten his five in 11 seasons.
"Billy's teams, I'm in awe of them a little bit," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "They do the right things and they do them so often, it's not luck. They lifted the bar for all of us to strive for."
Can the Tigers make it four in a row? Tierney will welcome back the defense that started yesterday and talented midfielders Lorne Smith and Josh Sims, but he'll have to make do without one of the most cohesive attacks ever.
Hubbard, one of two collegians who'll be on the U.S. team at the World Games at Johns Hopkins in July, finished his career with 163 goals and 48 assists. Jon Hess left with 215 career points, on 82 goals and 133 assists. Chris Massey departed with 146 goals and 46 assists.
That's a combined 618 career points.
"It's beyond belief that these three young men took the program to a level nobody could've predicted," Tierney said. "I experienced elation coming off that field, but the next moment, it was sadness, because I'm never going to get to coach Hess, Hubbard and Massey again.
"Sometimes, you write fairy tales, and the ending doesn't always come true. This one did. This one is special. I'll always remember the '98 championship as the farewell to the three amigos."
Princeton came back on Duke in the quarterfinals and Syracuse in Saturday's semifinal, when Hess said a sense of urgency overtook the Tigers.
"It's been a fun ride," Hess said. "When we were down 8-4 [against Syracuse], I looked over at the other two, and I knew what they were thinking. I'm not sure we would've been able to look each other in the eye without another championship."
Back to Byrd
The final four will return to Maryland's Byrd Stadium next year, when the tournament will come to the area on two of its three weekends.
The quarterfinal doubleheaders will be held at Hofstra and Princeton, with Princeton being the Southern site. The first-round doubleheaders will be at Brown and Towson, and John Parry, chairman of the NCAA lacrosse tournament, said he would like to see more Southern schools apply to hold games.
"We've just had a shortage of suitable facilities," Parry said. "We can't hold the quarterfinals at Maryland if we're going to have the final weekend there, and we need a bigger stadium than Hopkins for that round."
The final four also will be at Maryland in 2000, and come back to Rutgers in 2001 and 2002. Parry said Joe Boylan, the Loyola College athletic director, who's also on the lacrosse committee, has mentioned Baltimore's to-be-named NFL stadium as a possible location for the final four.
"Joe knows that there is interest there," Parry said. "Personally, I like the ambience of an on-campus site."
Yesterday's attendance was 17,225, the smallest since 1992, the last time Maryland didn't hold the final four.
No pulling Popham
Princeton goalie Corey Popham was yanked from the Duke win and replaced by Tierney's son, Trevor. Popham shut down Syracuse down the stretch, then stopped 17 Maryland shots and was the runaway choice as the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament.
"After Trevor came in against Duke, I looked at Corey to see how he would react," Tierney said. "He kept directing the defense, supporting Trevor, keeping positive. At the end of that game, he was one of the first guys to get to Trevor. That convinced me of what I already knew. He had just had a bad day.
"This wasn't about father-son or starting a junior over a freshman. Corey has done the job all year."
Popham, who called the tournament "a roller-coaster ride," was joined on the all-tournament team by fellow Tigers Hess, Hubbard, Sims and Christian Cook, the defenseman who got them into the final by blanking Syracuse's Casey Powell but suffered a torn knee ligament that kept him out of the final.
Maryland placed attackman Scott Hochstadt, midfielder Brian Haggerty and defenseman Mike Bonanni on the all-tournament team. It also included the Powell brothers from Syracuse, Casey and Ryan.
Matt Hahn picked a bad time to be shut out for the first time in his Maryland career.
Hahn, a senior from Olney, had registered at least one point in each of the previous 61 games he had played for the Terps, but he didn't have a goal or an assist yesterday. He came into the game needing three to set the Maryland record for goals in a season, but ended stuck on 49 this year and a school-record 149 for his career.
Hahn, who had averaged four goals a game in Maryland's last seven, was shadowed by Kurt Lunkenheimer, a junior defenseman.
Pub Date: 5/26/98