Tigers give Jays the blues

Hopkins loses, 15-11, to Princeton in opener

March 05, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Led by a youthful defense that played like veterans and an unlikely scoring star in junior attackman Matt Striebel, the No. 4 Princeton Tigers took an early lead and never trailed, while dealing No. 3 Johns Hopkins a 15-11 defeat before 6,292 yesterday at Homewood Field.

In the lacrosse season opener for both teams, Princeton gave the Blue Jays plenty to worry about, as they begin preparations for a rough, three-game stretch on the road, starting with Saturday's date at Hofstra, then continuing with games at Syracuse and Virginia.

For starters, the Blue Jays need to regroup on defense, where they allowed Striebel to assume a different identity.

Known primarily as his team's premier passer, Striebel took advantage of shaky man-to-man defense and slow slides by Hopkins, to lead the Tigers with a career-high four goals. Before yesterday, Striebel had 12 goals in two seasons.

Josh Sims, B. J. Prager and Josh White added two goals apiece. Nine different players scored for Princeton, as Hopkins goalkeeper Brian Carcaterra (12 saves) was the only thing standing in the way of a Tigers rout. It was not a particularly good day for close defensemen Brandon Testa, P. J. DiConza or Brendan Shook.

"We're not going to beat too many people on our schedule giving up 15 goals. It's not happening," Hopkins coach John Haus said.

"Our individual man-to-man play has to get better, first and foremost. Once we accomplish that, our team effort and slides will come. Our outfit didn't play a real good ballgame today."

Defensively, the Tigers were the same old Tigers under coach Bill Tierney -- deep, talented, and masters of the man-to-man and the matchup zone. Never mind that their starters included youngsters like freshman Damien Davis (Gilman) and sophomore Scott Farrell and backups like freshman Brian Lieberman.

With considerable help from junior goalie Trevor Tierney (22 saves), Princeton used well-timed double teams and superb sliding to clog the area around its cage all afternoon and keep Hopkins from staging any kind of offensive run.

Once the Tigers went on a 4-0 run to open an 11-6 lead with 7: 13 left in the third quarter, Hopkins was reduced largely to going one-on-one and taking low-percentage shots away from the net.

And the offense mostly boiled down to senior attackman Dan Denihan and senior midfielder A. J. Haugen, who helped the Jays close to within 11-8 with 6: 20 left in the period.

From there, Hopkins never got closer than 12-9 with 40 seconds remaining in the third.

Denihan led the Blue Jays with four goals and an assist. Haugen added three goals and two assists.

Whether it was by winning a faceoff, making a defensive stop or getting another score from Striebel, the Tigers always had an answer. And their offense, not considered their strong suit, was unstoppable at the right times.

"The thing that surprised me the most was we usually have a lull. Last year, we tried to hold on against Hopkins," said Tierney, alluding to the 1999 season opener, in which the Tigers blew a 9-3 second-half lead before losing, 12-11, to the Jays.

"I felt like we controlled ourselves better today. We got some explosive, out-of-the-ordinary goals because we weren't playing conservative. The kids kept pushing."

All of that made it easier on the Tigers' defense, where Princeton unveiled a star in the making. Davis, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder playing in his first collegiate game, guarded Denihan almost exclusively and kept him from taking over the game.

"We should be arrested for what we did to that young man [Davis], throwing him to the wolves in a place like Hopkins, against a great player like Dan Denihan," Tierney said.

"You go from youth to maturity in a hurry."

"I didn't sleep much Friday night, but I knew I would have a lot of help," Davis said.

"I noticed they're big players [Denihan and Haugen] started to go to the goal more and take more shots to try to keep their team in it. Every time they made a run, our offense would plug in a few more goals and keep us calm."

Said Denihan: "Davis is a good player, a great athlete. He didn't take me out of my game. I took myself out of my game. I didn't finish on shots I should have. Just like we can't win by giving up 15 goals, I don't think we can win with 10."

Although Hopkins had trouble getting untracked offensively in the first half, it did gain momentum by closing to within 7-5 with 11 seconds left on a goal by Chris Harned, who started in place of the injured Ryan Quinn (finger).

Haugen then pulled Hopkins to within 7-6 by beating Tierney 1: 44 into the second half.

Princeton needed nine seconds to stop the bleeding. The Tigers won the ensuing faceoff and made it 8-6 on a score by Prager offa feed from Striebel.

Denihan then threw the ball away on a fast break, which was soon followed by a Striebel goal in close to make it 9-6 with 9: 03 left in the third.

Sims and Brendan Tierney then scored to put Hopkins in an 11-6 hole with 7: 13 left in the quarter.

"When you get a big goal, the most critical thing is to get a stop defensively," Haus said. "We couldn't get a stop."

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