Terps move Edell step closer, 14-12

Maryland gets scare from Hofstra, but earns rematch with Princeton

Men's Lacrosse

May 15, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

The real story behind Maryland's quest for an NCAA lacrosse championship this season was revealed yesterday shortly after the Terps had survived a major scare from Hofstra, 14-12, in a first-round tournament duel on a perfect spring afternoon before a crowd of 4,128 at UMBC Stadium.

"It would be great to walk out of Byrd Stadium on Memorial Day with the `big man' here with a ring on his finger," said an emotional Jeff Shirk, a senior faceoff specialist/defenseman, as he looked toward Maryland coach Dick Edell.

Shirk's eyes began to water a little as he talked about Edell, who has never won an NCAA lacrosse championship in 17 years in College Park, even though he has guided the Terps to 12 NCAA tournament appearances and three title games.

Shirk says he owes Edell a lot for giving him an opportunity to play at the Division I level. No one else seemed interested in the son of former New York Giants tight end Gary Shirk.

"I definitely didn't want to go out at UMBC today, and I don't want to go out up in Jersey next week," said Jeff Shirk, whose rock-'em, sock-'em style of play epitomizes a lot of what this Maryland team is about. "All I'm picturing right now is winning it all for the `big man.'"

Sixth-seeded Maryland (11-4) will meet third-seeded Princeton (10-2) Saturday in the quarterfinals at Rutgers at approximately 4p.m.

It will be a rematch of the 1998 championship game, which also was played at Rutgers and was marred by unsportsmanlike conduct by Maryland players late in a 15-5 loss.

"I'm excited about the chance to see Princeton in the quarters," said Edell of the first meeting between the schools since that title game two years ago.

When Edell asked about Shirk's play yesterday, he said, "Jeff pulled a groin in the first quarter, but I knew he was going to be out there on the field down to the final draw of the game."

Shirk was asked to take all of Maryland's faceoffs in the fourth quarter after Hofstra's Doug Shanahan continued to dominate the draws late in the third period, enabling the Flying Dutchmen (11-5) to battle back from a 9-5 deficit to tie the game at 9 at the end of the third quarter.

"We prefer not to use Jeff so much on faceoffs because of all his other defensive duties," said Edell. "But we had to today, and he responded like the champion he is."

With Shirk fighting through pain in the fourth quarter to come up with some key faceoffs, Maryland's offense began to resurface behind its hottest two attackmen, Andrew "Buggs" Combs and Mike Mollot.

Combs scored three straight goals in a little less than seven minutes to break an 11-11 tie and give the Terps a 14-11 edge with 2:18 left in the game. Mollot fed Combs for two of the goals and finished the day with a career-high seven points on three goals and four assists.

Combs wound up with four goals as he and Mollot turned UMBC Stadium into their own little playground for the second straight week.

Combs has scored nine goals in two weeks (five last Saturday in a 15-7 victory over UMBC) on the Catonsville turf and Mollot has 11 points in those two games.

When Mollot was asked if he and Combs enjoyed playing together at UMBC, Mollot said, "I like Buggs anywhere he is."

Mollot, a freshman, has erupted for 16 points in the last three games and leads the team in scoring with 47 points (15 goals, 32 assists.

The prettiest goal of the day was scored by Maryland's Mike LaMonica early in the fourth quarter and pushed the Terps ahead, 10-9.

LaMonica and Brian Zeller crossed paths about 15 yards in front of the net, with LaMonica faking as if he was going to flip the ball to Zeller, who deked the Flying Dutchmen perfectly by pretending he had the ball in his stick.

But LaMonica kept the ball and fired home a shot.

Tom Kessler and Joe Kostolansky each finished with four goals to lead Hofstra.

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