No. 5 Hopkins puts on defensive show for ex-coach, 12-4

Benson's 6 points lead way against UNC, Haus

Lacrosse

April 01, 2001|By James Giza | James Giza,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - It was a dominating defensive effort that would have made their old coach proud.

The Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins pushed around North Carolina's struggling, pieced-together offense, turning in another overwhelming performance and dispatching the Tar Heels and former Hopkins coach John Haus, 12-4, in front of 1,825 yesterday at Fetzer Field.

If the No. 5 Blue Jays (3-2) haven't proven by now that they have the best defense in the nation, they are beginning to run out of new ways to state their case.

The 14th-ranked Tar Heels (4-4) were held scoreless until 15 seconds were left in the second quarter, and they managed only 28 shots for the game. Carolina's one goal in the first half and its total of four were the fewest allowed by Hopkins in a half and game this season.

Sophomore goalie Rob Scherr, meanwhile, turned in another strong game with 12 saves.

"We have our bad days, we have our good days," Hopkins senior defenseman Shawn Nadelen said. "But I think when we all play together on the same page, I think we're as good as any defense in the country."

Haus knew that going into the meeting with his former team, which he coached to consecutive final fours the past two seasons before joining his alma mater, but afterward he had hard proof.

"They have three guys who are probably All-Americans," Haus said. "And I don't think there's any other defense in the country that can say all three of their starters are All-Americans."

Haus and Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, who played under Haus as a defenseman at Hopkins in the late 1980s, said the ties between the two teams had no bearing on the game itself.

But Nadelen admitted that playing against his ex-coach was not normal.

"It was a little emotional," Nadelen said. "I was a little upset, personally, that he left, but I understood his reasons. And I just wanted to come down here, play really good lacrosse against him and come out with a win."

That's just what he did. Hopkins' senior long-stick unit of Nadelen, Brendan Shook and Brandon Testa did an effective job of keeping the Tar Heels away from the goal, forcing them to settle for shots 8 yards and out for much of the game.

Nadelen was given the responsibility of checking Carolina senior attackman Jeff Sonke, a preseason All-American and his team's only real offensive threat, but he got tons of help. Sonke often found himself double-teamed and was limited to nine shots, and two goals.

"We felt like if we could stop him and limit his opportunities, it would make things a little bit more difficult for them offensively," Pietramala said, "and Shawn Nadelen has played like a first-team All-American since the day he stepped on campus. He continued to show that today."

While the Carolina offense was being stymied at every turn, Hopkins' less-heralded players on the other side of the ball set a season high for goals.

Senior attackman Conor Denihan scored four goals, and sophomore attackman Bobby Benson (McDonogh) finished with two goals and a career-high four assists. Benson's six points were also a career high.

"We played our best game offensively today," Benson said. "It was nice to score 12 goals. We ride our defense's backs. They're the heart and soul of this team, and they only allowed four, and that's a [great] job by them."

Hopkins ran off the game's first six goals to virtually put the game away.

After the win, all that was left for the Hopkins players to do was to shake hands with the Tar Heels and their old coach. Few words were exchanged.

"I said, `Great game. Good luck with your season,' " Nadelen said "Obviously, he wasn't in a very talkative mood after the game."

Johns Hopkins 2 4 2 4 - 12 UNC 0 1 1 2 - 4

Goals: JH-Denihan 4, Benson 2, Ford 2, Hanna, McDermott, Boland, Muir; NC-Sonke 2, Jackson, Bell. Assists: JH-Benson 4, Ford, Doneger; NC-Gormsen, Lucas, Jackson, Garrison. Saves: JH-Scherr 12; NC-D'Urso 3, Blindenbacher 8.

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