Once more, Hopkins has hot April hand

Rout of UM underlines distance Jays have come

Men's notebook

Lacrosse

April 19, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

After considerable tinkering, it appears that Johns Hopkins coach John Haus has found the combination that has turned the Blue Jays into a dangerous team.

In one, near-perfect night, Saturday's 20-11 demolition of a solid Maryland team, Hopkins re-established itself as a contender and dispelled doubts that the Blue Jays are worthy of their 29th straight invitation to the NCAA tournament.

"We talked about having our backs to the wall, and sometimes that's a good thing," said Haus, alluding to the notion that, with a loss to the Terps, Hopkins might have needed victories over Navy, Towson and Loyola to gain one of seven at-large tournament bids.

The Blue Jays, who dropped three games in March to top-five teams, continued their recent dominance in April -- they have won 22 consecutive games in the month of April since 1997 -- behind a rejuvenated lineup.

Two key changes by Haus have ignited the offense, which has 49 goals in the last three games.

Freshman attackman Adam Doneger has started every game during the four-game winning streak, since coming off the bench to score twice against Virginia on March 25. Doneger has scored at least twice in each start, and he produced a career-high four goals against Maryland.

Moving junior midfielder Rob Frattarola to the first unit while dropping the struggling Conor Denihan to the second has worked perfectly. Frattarola, who had the first hat trick of his career in a victory over Ohio State 11 days ago, followed up with four goals against Maryland.

Those additions have helped turn senior attackman Dan Denihan into a first-team All-America candidate once again. Denihan, who moved into 10th place on Hopkins' all-time scoring list on Saturday, has 18 goals and 26 assists in 2000, including 12 goals and 14 assists during the four-game streak.

And no faceoff specialist has been hotter than Eric Wedin lately. During the winning streak, Wedin has won 59 of 82 attempts (72 percent).

Ohio State slippage

Ohio State's once-promising 2000 season took its biggest nosedive yet with Sunday's 7-6 loss to Stony Brook.

The Buckeyes, who had hoped to challenge Notre Dame for supremacy in the Midwest after beating the Irish a year ago, are way out of that race with a 4-6 record. Notre Dame already has sealed an NCAA tournament bid as one of five automatic qualifiers.

But keep an eye on the Buckeyes down the road. Third-year coach Joe Breschi, a product of Loyola High School, has put the program's newly funded scholarships to effective use in the Baltimore area.

"I grew up in Towson, around the MSA. I know there's a tremendous amount of talent there," Breschi said. "It's good to go home and bring some of that talent out to the Midwest. They have the Orioles and the Ravens back home, and they come out here and see that the Buckeyes are No. 1. They see a football game here, and they are taken by it."

By the time Breschi completes two more recruiting classes, his roster could be packed with local talent. It already includes 13 freshmen and sophomores from the area. Among them are freshman attackmen Pat Tracy (St. Paul's) and Mike Norton (Calvert Hall), who have ranked among the team's top five in scoring for much of the year.

The Buckeyes, who feature one of the country's better goalkeepers in senior Mike Abeles -- his 28-save game against Hopkins is the best in Division I -- still lack the depth to make up for key injuries.

Ohio State was 10-3 last year.

Cornell had longest run

Loyola thought it had owned the longest, regular-season winning streak in Division I history. The Greyhounds had won 30 straight, before losing at Syracuse on April 7.

ka0 But it turns out that Cornell -- which is enjoying a rebirth under coach Dave Pietramala and knocked off top-ranked Syracuse a week ago--owns the mark.

Between 1975 and 1979, the Big Red won 45 consecutive regular-season games. That was Cornell's golden era, during which it won back-to-back national championships in 1976 and 1977, before losing the 1978 title game to Johns Hopkins.

Including postseason games, the Big Red also won 42 consecutive contests, starting with their 1976 season opener and ending with that title loss to the Blue Jays.

NOTES: With Tom Hayesset stepping down at Rutgers after 26 seasons there, the Scarlet Knights reportedly are taking a hard look at Loyola associate head coach Bill Dirrigl, who interviewed for the Towson job two years ago before being passed over for Tony Seaman. Dirrigl, 32, has coached at Loyola since 1988, except for a three-year stint (1991-93) as head coach at Division III Franklin and Marshall. -- Cornell will face Princeton on Saturday for the Ivy League championship and an automatic qualifying spot in the NCAA tournament. Both teams figure to make the round of 12.

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