Eyeing a rare sail to tourney, Navy not stressed for Terps

Meade: `I've got guys who jump out of planes at 3 a.m.'

April 08, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Navy finds itself on the verge of breaking a five-year absence from the NCAA lacrosse tournament, the longest drought for the academy. The Midshipmen could make a major case for themselves on Saturday against Maryland, a school Navy hasn't beaten in Annapolis since 1985.

But this type of game pressure won't scare many Midshipmen.

"When you talk about stress, I've got guys who have jumped out of airplanes at 3 in the morning," Navy coach Richie Meade said. "I have five men who have gone through SEAL training. But we don't talk about the tournament. Our whole focus is to have the best record possible."

Many considered this the best team Navy has assembled under Meade, who has just one winning season and no tournament appearances since being named coach in 1995. Yet Meade said he doesn't feel his job will be threatened if the Midshipmen (5-3) fail to make the playoffs this season.

"I don't really think about it," Meade said. "If they feel they can get someone better, that's their decision. I don't feel my job is based on wins and losses. We're competing on a high level, but the bar has gone up over the years.

"If our goal was to make the playoffs, we could have a schedule where we could go 9-2. But our goal is to win the national championship. If we survive the schedule we have and got into the playoffs, we'll be battle-hardened."

Navy has annually started off strong under Meade, but has faded down the stretch against the likes of Georgetown, Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

However, the Midshipmen pulled off their biggest April win in recent memory on Saturday, when they edged then seventh-ranked Georgetown in overtime. It marked Navy's first overtime victory since 1994, the last year it made a tournament appearance.

Still, many observers believe Navy needs to beat either Maryland or Hopkins to secure a tournament bid. And that task doesn't seem to faze the Midshipmen.

"I think there is pressure to get over that hump to the next level," said Adam Borcz, a sophomore midfielder from Calvert Hall. "That's good. That's why we play. We wouldn't be at the academy if we didn't like pressure."

Familiar visitors

Although the Syracuse Orangemen reside about a six-hour drive north, they might as well be considered another local team.

When No. 4 Syracuse visits top-ranked Loyola on Saturday, it will be the Orangemen's third game in Baltimore in four weeks. That's the same amount of games they have played at the Carrier Dome.

"We call Baltimore our home away from home now," Syracuse coach John Desko said.

By the way, Syracuse has won three of its past four games here and is 4-1 against Loyola here.

Taking out the trash

The only competitive aspect of Virginia's 13-4 victory over Maryland Saturday seemed to be the trash talking.

When a Virginia student newspaper reporter asked Terps attackman Scott Hochstadt if defenseman Ryan Curtis hindered him, Hochstadt immediately scowled.

"I burned him every time," said Hochstadt, who had one goal and one assist. "He couldn't stay with me. I'd love to see him again. It's getting me fired up right now."

Hochstadt apparently had a few words on the field as well.

"Hochstadt turned and said: Just get it on the cage, this guy [stinks]," Virginia goalkeeper Derek Kenney said. "It made me smile. I didn't get angry at all. I just said to myself: `It's go time.' "

Caged family

If the Cornell-Harvard game ends with both teams in single digits Saturday, no one will be happier than the Cynar family. That's because brothers Justin and Keith Cynar of Massapequa, N.Y., will be the starting goalkeepers.

Stat of the week

Top-ranked Loyola, which plays host to No. 4 Syracuse on Saturday, has won 17 straight regular-season games -- the fourth-longest streak this decade. A look at the best winning streaks in the '90s:

School Years Streak

Princeton '96-98 23

N. Carolina '90-92 19

N. Carolina '92-93 18

Loyola '98-99 17

Brown '91-92 16

Princeton '93-94 16

Pub Date: 4/08/99

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