Hopkins shrugs off road barrier

Blue Jays just happy at 2nd Hofstra shot

May 22, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Rule No. 1 of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament: Playing a team at its home stadium is a bad scenario.

So why is Johns Hopkins rejoicing? Why are the Blue Jays smiling? Why are they ecstatic about squaring off against Hofstra today at Hofstra Stadium?

To the Blue Jays, the NCAA tournament committee didn't slight them, but handed them a favor. Although no visiting team has won in the quarterfinal round since the tournament went to predetermined sites in 1996, second-seeded Hopkins retains the memory of a 9-8 overtime loss at No. 7 Hofstra two weeks ago, and is eager to redeem itself.

"When we saw Hofstra in our bracket, our eyes lit up," midfielder Matt O'Kelly said. "We're dying for another chance at these guys."

Put yourself in O'Kelly's position.

After his illegal stick allowed the Flying Dutchmen an extra-man score to open the fourth quarter, O'Kelly held the ball with 12 seconds remaining and Hopkins ahead by a goal. But the most enviable circumstances vanished when he stepped out of the attack box, turning the ball over to Hofstra.

Flying Dutchmen freshman Joe Kostolansky then tied the score with four seconds left in regulation and scored the game-winner 23 seconds into overtime.

"It was a total and complete shock," attackman Dan Denihan said. "I know they didn't think they had it won. I know we thought we had it won. I would have bet my house. But that's why we play 60 minutes."

But the mistakes extended past the final minute and Hopkins coach John Haus said everyone in the locker room after the disaster agreed that the Blue Jays deserved to lose.

"There's no other word for it but falling apart," goalkeeper Brian Carcaterra said. "A total team breakdown. Thirty turnovers, that might be a Hopkins record."

The Hopkins-Hofstra contest kicks off the NCAA quarterfinal round that begins today in Hempstead, N.Y., and takes a short trip down the interstate tomorrow to Princeton, N.J.

The second game of today's doubleheader at Hofstra is another rematch, with No. 4 Duke meeting No. 5 Georgetown, a team the Blue Devils have owned.

The Blue Devils improved to 12-0 in this series by slipping past the Hoyas, 10-8, on March 27 with the help of an overwhelming faceoff effort.

Duke's Scott Bross, a graduate of Centennial High, won 15 of 16 draws as the Blue Devils managed to hold off Georgetown, which had two goals in the fourth quarter wiped away.

"The other things we can't dwell on," Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. "Faceoffs are our concern and what we will try to improve."

In the first game tomorrow at Princeton Stadium, top-seeded Loyola will collide with No. 8 Syracuse, with two historic options possible.

Will the Greyhounds become the first No. 1 seeds not to advance to the national semifinals or will the Orangemen have their streak of 16 straight Final Fours end? Loyola will not concede to Syracuse's tradition despite its 2-7 record in the quarterfinals, because it downed the Orangemen, 10-8, on April 10.

"I think Syracuse has improved. I think Loyola has improved, too," Greyhounds coach Dave Cottle said. "We're going to play the only way we know how to play. We're not going sideways, we're going forward."

The final matchup of the weekend, No. 3 Virginia against No. 6 Delaware, features two of the country's top offenses, but most of the anticipation has focused on the showdown between Cavaliers defenseman Ryan Curtis and Blue Hens attackman John Grant, both probable first-team All-Americans.

Yet the more critical matter may be whether injury-marred Delaware can keep up with the quickness of Virginia.

Said Delaware coach Bob Shillinglaw after he won his first playoff game in his 21st season with the Blue Hens last week:

"I'm sure we're going to try to magnify Ryan Curtis' picture for John's locker so he knows who's going to play him."

NCAA lacrosse

Division I quarterfinals

Today's games

At Hempstead, N.Y.

* Johns Hopkins (10-2) vs.

Hofstra (14-2), noon

* Georgetown (12-2) vs.

Duke (13-2), 3 p.m.

Tomorrow's games

At Princeton, N.J.

* Loyola (12-0) vs.

Syracuse (10-4), 1 p.m.

* Virginia (10-3) vs.

Delaware (14-2), 4 p.m.

Home cooking

Johns Hopkins' visit to Hofstra today will mark the fourth instance of a school playing at its home stadium in the NCAA Division I tournament since it went to predetermined sites for the first and quarterfinal rounds in 1996. The previous three times occurred in the quarterfinals, and all three times the host and lower seed prevailed.

Year Host Visitor Result

1996 No. 7 Hopkins No. 2 Maryland Hopkins, 9-7

1997 Maryland-x No. 2 Virginia Maryland, 10-9

1998 No. 5 Maryland No. 4 Hopkins Maryland, 11-10*

x-unseeded; *-overtime

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