This season's Bucknell team doesn't forget '96 NCAA snub

Automatic-bid process may help Bison this time

Notebook

College Lacrosse

April 11, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Should Bucknell complete a march to the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament, its 1996 team would be a part of the accomplishment.

The Bison are in command of the Patriot League, and a win at Colgate on Saturday would clinch their first NCAA berth. Sentiment for automatic bids was boosted five years ago, when unbeaten Bucknell stayed home, a victim of the selection committee's strength of schedule argument and a martyr to those who wanted representation for all eligible leagues.

Bucknell's plight that season - its perfect record included a win over Army, which was included in the field - raised howls from outside the insulated game. Sports Illustrated, which usually notices the sport only on Memorial Day, ripped the "Lords of Lacrosse." Bison coach Sid Jamieson remains passionate about the topic; just ask him if his 1996 team was the impetus for automatic bids.

"I'm highly biased, but from my perspective, absolutely," Jamieson said. "The firestorm that arose out of that decision-making process is one of the reasons the NCAA has automatic qualifiers. I still get very emotional when I talk about this. The kids on our team are aware of the history."

This is Jamieson's 34th season as coach at Bucknell, and before the university in Lewisburg, Pa., upgraded to collegiate status, he ran its club team. Jamieson came into this season with a career record one game below .500. He doubled as a football assistant for 25 years, and it wasn't until the early 1990s that he gave his full attention to lacrosse.

No. 11 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association rankings, Bucknell has lost to Maryland, Georgetown and Penn, but it began the season with a win over North Carolina and took control of the Patriot League on St. Patrick's Day with an 11-9 win at Army that wasn't that close. Bucknell also handled defending champion Hobart, so it needs to win just one of its two remaining Patriot League games to get in the NCAAs.

Justin Sussman, a sophomore goalie out of Friends School, allows 7.64 goals a game. He's escorted by three senior captains, as Brian Treacher and J. C. Metivier anchor the close defense, and Mark Juelis is one of the nation's premier long-stick midfielders. Sophomore attackman Dennis Geraghty has erupted for 32 goals, and Jamieson said that Michael Cheng "is as good a midfielder as I've ever had."

Roaring Tigers

Does Towson coach Tony Seaman want to bring his young team back down to earth after stirring wins at Loyola and Hofstra?

"You get caught between a rock and a hard place with that," Seaman said. "This team is pretty talented, but it had to find out how to win. I want it to be confident. I want it to be cocky. I want them to act like Duke basketball, or Syracuse lacrosse in May. We're young enough and insecure enough that we won't look past anyone, but I like a swagger in their walk. I like the fact that they're enjoying their success. I don't want to rein that in."

When Towson lost to Maryland by a goal for the second straight year, Seaman wondered if he was in for a repeat of 2000, when the Tigers went 3-10 and five of the losses came by a total of eight goals. Goalie John Horrigan, faceoff ace Justin Berry and defenseman Kevin Meyran are the only seniors in the rotation, but the maturation process was sped by a comeback win at Loyola and a 16-12 win at Hofstra.

No. 10 Towson is the only unbeaten in the America East, and has the inside track to gain home-field advantage for the conference tournament. The Tigers do not want to go back to Hofstra, where they went to the penalty box nine times compared to once for the Pride.

Player of the Week

Kyle Campbell, Towson. Is there a hotter player in the nation than the sophomore attackman? The Mount Hebron grad, who began his collegiate career at Loyola, had his second straight seven-goal game at Hofstra. The next opponent charged with solving the matchup problems he poses will be Vermont, today at Minnegan Stadium.

Game of the Week

Johns Hopkins at Maryland, Saturday, 8 p.m.

There is still a ton of lacrosse to be played, but the winner will take a big step toward locking up one of the four first-round NCAA byes. What hurt the Terps worse, last year's 20-11 loss at Homewood Field, or the Blue Jays' 13-3 romp in 1999, the last time the two met at Byrd Stadium?

The No. 1 team in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association rankings the past four weeks has lost, but current No. 1 Princeton shouldn't have as much trouble with Harvard on Saturday.

Poll date......... No. 1............Downfall

March 12.......Syracuse.......Lost to Johns Hopkins, 11-10

March 19........Princeton......Lost to Syracuse, 14-8

March 26....... Maryland.......Lost to Virginia, 7-2

April 2.............Syracuse...... Lost to Loyola, 14-13

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