Hopkins-Princeton: Let the season begin

Jays, Tigers continue opening tradition

March 04, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Although the NCAA men's lacrosse season is a week old, today's annual showdown between Johns Hopkins and visiting Princeton shapes up as the true launching pad for the 2000 season.

It is the season opener for third-ranked Hopkins and fourth-ranked Princeton, who are expected to compete well into the Division I championship tournament in May. Should the weather cooperate, about 6,000 fans could pack Homewood Field by faceoff time at noon.

And if history has anything to say about it, the game should provide plenty of entertainment. The teams have met in the season opener every year since 1990, with Princeton holding a 6-4 advantage during that span. Seven of their past 11 meetings overall have been decided by one goal.

"It's been a great game for the past 10 or 12 years as the opener for both teams, and it's a pretty big game," said Hopkins coach John Haus, whose Blue Jays edged the Tigers, 12-11, a year ago, then went on to play in the Final Four before losing to eventual national champion Virginia in the semifinals.

"We're like everybody else in the country that hasn't played a game yet. Obviously, we're very excited to get out there on Saturday."

The Blue Jays are hoping to capitalize on Princeton's relative inexperience. The Tigers are expected to start three freshmen: attackman Sean Hartofilis, midfielder Owen Daly (McDonogh) and defenseman Damien Davis (Gilman).

Not that Princeton hasn't won with youth before under 13-year coach Bill Tierney, who guided the Tigers to three consecutive national titles from 1996 to 1998. The Tigers were bounced in the tournament's first round last year.

Among the Blue Jays' highest priorities will be neutralizing All-America midfielder Josh Sims and attackmen Matt Striebel and B. J. Prager, the top three returning scorers who combined for 63 goals and 43 assists in 1999.

The Tigers are famously patient and pass-happy in Tierney's structured offense. The Hopkins defense is led by goalkeeper Brian Carcaterra, close defensemen Brendon Testa and Brandon Shook and long-stick middie Shawn Nadelen.

Princeton's defense typically slides, checks and maintains good position as well as anyone. The Hopkins scoring trio of attackman Dan Denihan and midfielders A. J. Haugen and Conor Denihan -- they scored 77 goals a year ago -- needs to keep pressure on Princeton goalie Trevor Tierney.

"You have to be unselfish against [Princeton]. We have to play at our pace and our tempo," Haus said. "You can't foul, you've got to win some faceoffs, and clearing the ball is important. They were one of the best defensive teams of the '90s. They've always had a great defense and a great goalie, and they've got them now."

Hopkins also may have to compensate for the temporary loss of junior attackman Ryan Quinn, who missed last year's NCAA tournament with a knee injury, then suffered a cut finger in practice last week that required stitches. Haus said playing Quinn would be a game-time decision.

Quinn probably will be replaced by senior Chris Harned.

Hopkins today

Opponent: No. 4 Princeton (0-0)

Site: Homewood Field

Time: Noon

TV/Radio: Ch. 2/WJFK (1300 AM)

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