State could be hurting in NCAA representation

Men's notebook

Single entry a possibility

even JHU no sure thing

College Lacrosse

April 24, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Don't look now, but the state of Maryland could be limited to just one team in the NCAA Division I tournament.

Navy and UMBC's hopes in the Eastern College Athletic Conference were dashed early. With at-large selections limited to six teams, Towson was doomed when it lost four times in a five-game stretch. No. 9 Maryland has four one-goal losses, all to teams ranked among the top five, but no victories over anyone in the top 10.

Mount St. Mary's remains in the running for its first berth, as it will be one of the four teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament May 3 and 4 at Marist. The MAAC champion is one of the new automatic qualifiers to the NCAAs.

No. 10 Loyola begins a must-win stretch today at Curley Field against No. 6 Georgetown, which is also looking desperate after its first loss, to ECAC rival Massachusetts. It's one of the games that will highlight some intense jockeying over the final 11 days of the regular season.

The Greyhounds have a negative mark on their record - a loss to Butler - and they probably have to run the table and beat Georgetown, Hobart and Johns Hopkins to get in the tournament. Are the top-ranked Blue Jays even safe? What if they finish with losses to Towson and Loyola?

The last time the state had just one NCAA team was 1985, when Hopkins was the lone local in an eight-team tournament. Since 1990, when only the Blue Jays and Loyola made it, the state has had at least three participants.

When the NCAA basketball tournament began to expand in the mid-1970s, the National Invitation Tournament lost its luster. Come selection Sunday, May 5, the lacrosse teams on the wrong side of the bubble - several of final four caliber - would make for an entertaining consolation tournament.

The boys on the bubble, incidentally, need not worry about the West region of the country taking a spot, in addition to the one that will go to Great Western Lacrosse League champion Fairfield.

Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said that when the GWLL got an automatic qualifier, the teams in the West agreed to forfeit the geographic berth that the NCAA handbook said they deserve.

Last out, first in

Massachusetts howled when it didn't get an at-large bid last year. Was it poetic justice when the Minutemen won at Georgetown, improved to 4-0 in the ECAC and became the first to qualify for this year's tournament?

"We tried to get away from that this season," coach Greg Cannella said. "Another opportunity arose, and our guys took advantage of it this time."

Player of the week

Tim Flanagan, UMBC.

The junior goalie out of Archbishop Curley and Essex Community College began an April 17 loss to Towson on the bench.

The next day, his father, Thomas, died of a heart attack. Last Saturday, Flanagan made 19 saves as the Retrievers upset Army, 15-9.

Game of the week

No. 5 Duke at No. 11 Hofstra, Friday 7:30 p.m.

Like Georgetown-Loyola, this is almost a play-in game to the NCAAs. The Blue Devils are riding high after the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The Dutchmen are desperate, but Duke (7-5) already has fallen to North Carolina, and no one with six losses deserves an at-large bid this season.

Et cetera

Salisbury is 46-0 all-time in the Capital Athletic Conference, and will make its 14th straight appearance in the Division III tournament. ... When Towson plays at Johns Hopkins on Saturday, one from each team will receive the Chris Gardner Player of the Year Award. Gardner, who died of cancer in 1997, was a member of the Blue Jays when they were coached by current Tigers boss Tony Seaman, and Dave Pietramala was his assistant. A portion of ticket sales will go to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. ... Injured Virginia defenseman Mark Koontz is the ACC Player of the Year.

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