State teams hope title run rolls on

Maryland, Hopkins earn first-round byes

May 07, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The Ravens rolled in the Super Bowl, and Hasim Rahman is the heavyweight champion of the world. The Maryland men's basketball team made its first Final Four, and Michael Phelps, the swim phenom from Rodgers Forge, set a world record.

Any chance that one of the state's men's lacrosse teams might join the fun, and bring home the NCAA Division I title?

Johns Hopkins has received a lot of heat for not winning an NCAA title since 1987, but it's not as if its state rivals have spent the past 13 years climbing the final rung. Loyola, Towson and Maryland have reached the NCAA final since 1990, but all left empty-handed.

With four of the 12 teams in a field that was announced last night, the state would seem well positioned to end that drought, but history and the men's lacrosse committee that selected the seven at-large teams and seeded the tournament, suggest otherwise. Other than Virginia two years ago, either Syracuse or Princeton has been the last team standing on Memorial Day every year since 1991. The Orangemen and Tigers are seeded Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.

Maryland and Johns Hopkins are seeded third and fourth, respectively, and first-round byes send both to a May 20 quarterfinal doubleheader at Byrd Stadium. Towson and Loyola were seeded sixth and seventh, respectively, and play in a first-round doubleheader at UMBC on Saturday.

An analysis of the path to Rutgers and the final four faced by the state's Division I teams follows.

No. 3 Maryland: The Terps' tournament will begin at home, against the Towson-Duke winner. Maryland would love another shot at the Blue Devils, who beat the Terps, 10-6, in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final. The Terps understand that Towson's turnaround was in its infancy March 10, when Maryland escaped Minnegan Stadium with a 9-7 win.

"In a season that didn't have many bad stretches, four or five minutes in Orlando [against Duke] was as bad as we played all season," coach Dick Edell said. "We'd welcome the opportunity to play them again. Towson's been out of sight, out of mind, but it's obvious that they are not the same team we saw two months ago."

A semifinal date looms with Princeton, which beat Maryland, 10-7, in last year's quarterfinals, and humbled the Terps in the 1997 and '98 championship games.

No. 4 Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays got a good draw at first glance.

Notre Dame is expected to beat Bucknell, the Patriot League's automatic qualifier, and get its first game against Hopkins since 1996. For all of the strides that the Fighting Irish have made, they still aren't as battle tested as Dave Pietramala's Blue Jays. Hopkins played the nation's toughest schedule and was the only team to beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

Some of the Blue Jays' senior midfielders will benefit from the bye. Conor Denihan has been slowed by a bad knee, Rob Frattarola missed time with a stress fracture and Eric Wedin was wobbly down the stretch against Loyola two days ago. He's exhausted after a season of facing off and running a midfield shift.

No. 6 Towson: Goalie John Horrigan and faceoff specialist Justin Berry gutted out injuries as the Tigers halted Hofstra in the America East final. Horrigan's shoulder feels better every day, but Berry's hamstring pull needs time to heal.

Duke's defense fared well in the close-to-the-vest ACC, but a freewheeling offense has become Towson's trademark under Tony Seaman. Both the Tigers and Blue Devils, who got the last at-large selection over Massachusetts, are capable of beating Maryland.

No. 7 Loyola: The Greyhounds get Georgetown, which was battered physically and emotionally in a 19-9 loss to Syracuse, the Hoyas' worst beating at home in five years. Loyola has some sour memories of its own, a series of embarrassments in the tournament. Coach Dave Cottle anticipates an up-tempo game in the first round, and a change of pace for the winner against Princeton, the most experienced team in the bottom half of the draw.

Cottle was surprised that Syracuse was seeded No. 1 over Princeton. "If I was on the committee, I would have been against that," he said. "Princeton knows how to get ready, and they're deeper than everyone."(Division III men's tournament schedule, 9d)

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