Hopkins faces early road test

No. 3 Blue Jays hope defense, goalie contain top-ranked Syracuse

March 17, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Johns Hopkins coach John Haus wants to see more of the good defense the Blue Jays showed a week ago. He does not wish for a high-scoring shootout.

Syracuse coach John Desko would never take the storied fast break, run-and-gun style out of the Orangemen's makeup. But he wants to see more of the settled attack and balanced scoring that have marked his top-ranked team this season.

And going into tonight's showdown between Syracuse and No. 3 Hopkins at the Carrier Dome, both coaches figure the goalies -- Syracuse's Rob Mulligan and the Blue Jays' Brian Carcaterra -- could play the deciding roles.

Whichever team wins, it's likely to be close. Four of the last five meetings between the teams have been decided by two goals or less.

"We're going to have to play near-perfect defense," Haus said. "We've made progress there. We played better defense last week. That's what counts right now.

"Offensively, [Syracuse] is as good as anyone out there. And we can't count on just two guys at our offensive end. We need six or eight guys."

Attackman Dan Denihan and midfielder A.J. Haugen are the Big Two at Hopkins. Denihan is coming off a career-high six-assist day in last week's 12-6 win over Hofstra, and he leads the team with 11 points. Haugen leads the Blue Jays with five goals and two assists.

To beat Syracuse (2-0), the Blue Jays need continued production from attackman Bobby Benson and midfielder Justin Shaberly, who each came alive against Hofstra. They also need middie Conor Denihan to snap out of his 1-for-19 shooting drought.

And Hopkins (1-1) could use a repeat performance from its defense, led by Carcaterra and Brandon Testa, which helped the Blue Jays recover from a season-opening 15-11 loss to Princeton.

Desko expects the Blue Jays to flash different looks at the high-powered Syracuse attack. The Orangemen feature All-American Ryan Powell (seven goals, five assists), Michael Springer (six, two), Liam Banks (four, three) and Josh Coffman (four, three).

"I remember they threw a zone at us in the fourth quarter last year and shut us down," Desko said of Hopkins, recalling the Blue Jays' 12-10 victory at Homewood Field. "I think Hopkins will have more than just Plan A. They'll be prepared with B and C."

Syracuse moved into its top ranking two weeks ago by edging Virginia, 13-12, in overtime. The Orangemen won the national title in 1995 and lost to Virginia in last year's championship game.

Desko isn't looking past tonight's visit from Hopkins.

"Our offense has done well so far, and we've got a few more people on defense than we had last year. We're most happy with the chemistry," he said. "But it's too early to feel comfortable. Hopkins is a dangerous group."

Today's game

No. 3 Johns Hopkins (1-1) at No. 1 Syracuse (2-0)

Site, time: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y., 8 p.m.

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

Skinny: Now that Hopkins has stuffed a credible offense at Hofstra, it's time to step up against one of the premier attacks in the nation. -- Gary Lambrecht

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