Hopkins: More than luck got Irish here

Jays heavily favored, but they respect foe

May 21, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Johns Hopkins has been unbeatable since March and close to perfect when playing at home in the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

And with Notre Dame, the unseeded surprise team of the postseason, coming to Homewood Field a week after shocking Loyola in the first round, the Blue Jays want to hear nothing about being prohibitive favorites against the Irish in today's quarterfinal round."We're not overconfident. We know we have to go out and battle Notre Dame," Hopkins midfielder Rob Frattarola said."We have total respect for their coaches and their players," Blue Jays coach John Haus said of Notre Dame. "Having watched them play against Loyola, they are as well-balanced a team as we've faced all year."

The Irish (10-3) figure to be loose, as they attempt to knock off the last Baltimore-area team left in the round of eight.

The Irish hope to be unintimidated by the setting at Hopkins. The Blue Jays have a 32-4 record in the postseason and are determined to return to the final four in College Park for the second consecutive year.

What the Irish probably cannot expect is another magical first half like the one they played while upsetting the Greyhounds last week. Notre Dame, led by Chad DeBolt and Kevin Higgins, won the game's first 11 faceoffs, took 14 of the game's first 18 shots, and stunned Loyola by taking a 10-2 lead late in the first half of a 15-13 victory."We've talked about that," said Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan, who is 2-8 in the national tournament in his 12 seasons in South Bend. "Let's not stand here and say we're going to play better than we played in those first 15 minutes [against Loyola]. Hopkins at Hopkins is going to be a formidable challenge."

What the Irish could use today is another superb outing from their homegrown attack duo of juniors Tom Glatzel and David Ulrich from Boys' Latin.

If Glatzel plays better than he did a week ago, the Blue Jays could be in trouble. On a day when 11 players scored, Glatzel pounded Loyola with four goals and three assists to earn national Player of the Week honors. Ulrich chipped in one goal and two assists.

The Irish, who, like Hopkins, have won seven straight games, were athletic enough to run by Loyola, especially at the midfield. Their interior passing was exceptional. And led by Higgins (team-high 66 ground balls), they have a scrappy side to them. Glatzel ranks second on the team with 59 ground balls.

But Notre Dame clearly must overcome a better, more balanced opponent than the Greyhounds today. For starters, the Blue Jays (8-3) most likely will hold their own in the faceoff circle and in the net, where Loyola used two goalies last week.

Hopkins junior Eric Wedin might be the hottest faceoff specialist in the country. During the winning streak - which began after losses to Princeton, Syracuse and Virginia dropped the Blue Jays to 1-3 for the first time in 34 years - Wedin has won 98 of 143 faceoffs for a 68.5 percent success rate. And Wedin (team-high 107 ground balls) can battle for loose balls with the best.

Then there is senior goalie Brian Carcaterra, the two-time All-American who has led a defensive resurgence by the Blue Jays by playing at his best late in the season. Carcaterra's career-high 23 saves two weeks ago led Hopkins to a 16-12 victory at Loyola, which secured the Blue Jays' first-round bye.

If Hopkins wins the battle of possession time, the Irish will be under enormous pressure to stop the Blue Jays' offense. Senior All-Americans Dan Denihan (attack) and A.J. Haugen (midfield) lead the way, but the Blue Jays are getting scores from many sources.

Freshman attackmen Adam Doneger and Bobby Benson, each of whom began the year on the bench, have combined for 43 goals and are shooting over 40 percent. Since replacing Conor Denihan on the front midfield line at midseason, Frattarola has 11 goals. Denihan gave Hopkins another spark with four goals against Loyola."The whole team was rattled [in March], but the beginning of the season really doesn't matter anymore," Frattarola said. "Look where we are now."

The Blue Jays are back in familiar territory, trying to get to the Final Four for the sixth time since 1992. They have not played in the title game since 1989. The Irish have gone to the quarterfinals twice but no farther."We haven't been in this situation a lot," Corrigan said. "Are we happy to be there or do we want to win? I think we'll find out on Sunday."

Today's games

What: NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinals

Where: Homewood Field

Schedule: Virginia vs. Duke, noon; Johns Hopkins vs. Notre Dame, 3p.m.

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