Tierney's analysis

May 29, 1999

Princeton coach Bill Tierney, whose Tigers have won the past three national championships, gives his position-by-position breakdown of the national semifinalists. This season, Princeton split with Syracuse and lost to Johns Hopkins and Virginia.

No. 5 Georgetown (13-2) vs. No. 8 Syracuse (11-4)

Time: Noon


Attack: The Syracuse attack has an added dimension with Liam Banks. The Orangemen have two great ones in Ryan Powell and Matt Cutia, who play together well and cause problems with their picking game behind. The nice thing about Syracuse is that it has shown it can play a smart game, and that could be a defining factor. The Georgetown attack's strength is Greg McCavera, a left-handed feeder with a bunch of right-handed midfielders and finishers around him. Andy Flick is the guy who has really improved. And Scotty Urick is the heart and soul of the team. Edge: Even.

Midfield: Syracuse, with a big strong kid (Brian Solliday), an attack-type kid (Josh Coffman) and a fast slashing-type kid (Matt Caione), has a well-balanced midfield that is willing to play off Cutia and Powell. The Orangemen don't have a pure midfield dodger, but are a good group that plays together. Georgetown's midfield is nondescript in a positive way. The Hoyas have players who can dodge and shoot from the outside and complement their attack well. Edge: Syracuse, slight because of its experience.

Defense: With Syracuse, there is a revenge factor because it doesn't feel it played a great defensive game the last time against Georgetown. The Orangemen also have been overlooked the past couple of games. They have a nice combination of size and tend to take a few more chances than most teams. Georgetown impressed me in how how it played aggressively for 60 minutes against Duke. If anything reminds me of [Georgetown coach] Dave Urick's old Hobart teams is how the Hoyas play defense. They assault you and challenge you. And that will be key. Edge: Even.

Goalkeeper: Rob Mulligan has proven he's the hot guy right now and, over the years, that's been a deciding factor in postseason games. In [Hoyas goalkeeper] Brian Hole, the Hoyas have someone who has had a great career and who makes you shoot good shots. He's not as flashy as Mulligan, but you have to shoot around him. Edge: Syracuse.

Faceoff: Syracuse's Jason Denicker is a hot commodity and needs to continue what he did against Loyola last week. Edge: Syracuse.

Key for Georgetown: Will the Hoyas just be happy to be here? They have to continue to play aggressively. If they do that, then it's going to be a war.

Key for Syracuse: Can the Orangemen continue this business-like mentality? If they can control the ball, put Georgetown on edge and finish like they did against Loyola, then they will give the Hoyas fits.

Overall: Syracuse, close. The Orangemen seem to be on a mission.

No. 2 Johns Hopkins (11-2) vs. No. 3 Virginia (11-3)

Time: 3 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN2/WJFK (1300 AM).

Attack: Virginia has three potential All-Americans on attack. The Cavaliers have a team system that goes through the attack and their best player, Tucker Radebaugh, is there. Tucker is the guy that, if it all bogs down, Virginia will look to him. There is not a weak link on Virginia's attack and that's what makes the Cavaliers so tough. With Hopkins, Dan Denihan has proven he can feed and score. He's going to be faced with Ryan Curtis, which is a huge matchup. Dylan Schlott just throws the ball in the goal and does it well. If A.J. Haugen plays attack, that creates matchup problems for Virginia. Edge: Virginia.

Midfield: Virginia has as athletic a midfield as there is. Jay Jalbert is one of the best athletes out there. Hanley Holcomb is one of the few players who can dodge and shoot on the run. The Cavs' second midfield would be a first midfield on most teams. Hopkins' first midfield is loaded, as good as anyone's. Haugen leads the way and takes a lot of heat from the other two. Conor Denihan has grown up in a year and fills a role that Andrew Godfrey left. Matt O'Kelly, though, is the guy who can make a big play. There's a bigger dropoff to Hopkins' second group than there is with Virginia. Edge: Hopkins.

Defense: Virginia's defense hasn't been heard from much except for Curtis. The Cavaliers leave their poles to cover their guys and slide if need be. The advantage Hopkins has is that it has a unit that has played the entire year. Hopkins is more aggressive on defense than in the past, which means the ball is on the ground more and it fouls more. The premier guys -- Curtis will take Dan Denihan and Hopkins' Rob Doerr will draw Radebaugh -- are huge in the game. Edge: Even.

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