Today's Division I semifinals

May 27, 2000|By Gary Lambrecht

First game

No. 4 Johns Hopkins (9-3) vs. No. 1 Syracuse (13-1)

Time: Noon

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

TV/Radio: ESPN2/WJFK (1300 AM)

Attack: Syracuse has the most dangerous attack unit in the nation, led by the remarkable Ryan Powell, a Player of the Year candidate who can be flashy around the cage yet is unafraid to sacrifice his body in traffic. Michael Springer leads the team with 43 goals and has been a tremendous finisher since midseason, while Liam Banks has scored at least one goal in every game. At Hopkins, the offense runs through Dan Denihan, who is equally comfortable bulling his way to the net and dumping off passes. Denihan is the only true feeder on the team. Freshmen Bobby Benson and Adam Doneger have helped the offense immensely, but they have never played under this kind of pressure. Edge: Syracuse.

Midfield: Josh Coffman often gets lost in the headlines that follow the Orangemen's attack, but he could be the difference today. He hurt Hopkins with four assists in their first meeting. Matt Caione gives Syracuse a solid outside shooting threat, and Joe Ceglia is outstanding on defense. A.J. Haugen probably gives Hopkins the game's most athletic middie, and he helps by attracting attention even when he isn't scoring. Rob Frattarola and Justin Shaberly have come on in the second half, and Conor Denihan has thrived since dropping to the second line. Edge: Syracuse.

Defense: The Orangemen, perhaps more than any other team, have the size and athletic ability to push offenses away from the cage. John Glatzel has the ability to take Dan Denihan out of the action for lengthy stretches, and Marshall Abrams and Billy St. George could tie up Benson and Doneger. Brandon Testa is the heart of a Hopkins defense that has gotten progressively better over the past six weeks. Brendan Shook and Shawn Nadelen will be hard-pressed to contain Springer and Banks. Edge: Syracuse.

Goalkeeper: Rob Mulligan will not win many style points, but he is a stable presence who never seems to have a bad game. His .623 save percentage ranks fourth in the country, and he hurt Hopkins with 17 saves in March. The Blue Jays need to test him early. Syracuse promises to take some early shots at Brian Carcaterra, who looms as the X factor that could push the Blue Jays into the finals. After a sluggish start, Carcaterra is playing his best lacrosse of the season at the perfect time. Edge: Hopkins.

Faceoff: Eric Wedin has been a huge factor during Hopkins' eight-game winning streak, and he had a pretty good night against Chris Cercy in March. But this is May, and Cercy is outstanding. He leads the nation with a .723 winning percentage. Edge: Syracuse.

Key for Hopkins: Get great games out of Wedin and Carcaterra, which will allow the Blue Jays to control the tempo and put pressure on Mulligan. They also need someone other than Dan Denihan or A.J. Haugen to take over parts of the game on offense.

Key for Syracuse: The Orangemen have been more disciplined in their settled offense under coach John Desko, but Syracuse needs to put a stamp on this game with its transition game, rivaled only by Virginia. If the Orangemen's close defense can rattle the Blue Jays' freshman attackmen, Syracuse is on its way to the final.

Pick: Syracuse-

Gary Lambrecht

Team comparison:

Hopkins Syracuse

Goals scored 12.5 15.2

Goals allowed 10 8.6

Shooting pct. .265 .342

Opp. shooting pct. .305 .239

Faceoffs .597 .680

Ground balls +9 +15.1

Clearing pct. .835 .825

Opp. clearing pct. .795 .758

Extra-man offense .370 .286

Man-down defense.194. .200

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