8-0 McDaniel is out to change name of its game

Terror seeking improved reputation, NCAA chances

College Lacrosse

Men's notebook

April 16, 2003|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

McDaniel College changed its name.

Can it alter its image in men's lacrosse?

Overshadowed by traditional powers like Washington College in the Division III Centennial Conference, the Green Terror has never qualified for the NCAA tournament. Last year McDaniel changed its name and hired a new coach, and the next 12 days will determine if it's ready to establish a new pattern for the postseason.

The college formerly known as Western Maryland goes to Lancaster today to face Franklin & Marshall. On Saturday, it's home against Washington, and on Tuesday it has a make-up game against Gettysburg. All three Centennial rivals get more respect in the coaches poll than the 13th-ranked Green Terror, which is one of only two unbeatens in the nation. Whittier of Southern California is the other.

No matter what happens, though, McDaniel (8-0) appears to be on more solid footing than it was a year ago. Then in his 10th year as the Green Terror coach, Keith Reitenbach was arrested on charges of interfering with officers trying to break up a party. He resigned last July before being placed on probation, and in August McDaniel hired Jim Townsend.

"The transition has been harder than I thought," Townsend said. "The kids have had to adapt to me, and I've had to adapt to them."

He spent the previous decade in Troy, N.Y., where he guided Rensselaer to its first NCAA tournament berths. Townsend is a native of Corning, N.Y., but he knew Maryland, as he played for Salisbury University from 1983 to 1986. He jokes that the Sea Gulls retired his number 32 - after Josh Coffman wore it in the mid 1990s and compiled an NCAA record 451 points - but Townsend did score six goals in a 1984 NCAA quarterfinal.

Reitenbach left a cupboard full of talent. Joe Ellis, a two-sport star out of Oakland Mills with 80 catches over the past three football seasons for McDaniel, has a team-high 28 goals. Rob Weaver has 33 assists. Mike Korba, a junior goalie from DeMatha, has been the main beneficiary of a new defensive scheme: McDaniel hasn't allowed more than six goals since the season's first week.

The Green Terror has some climbing to do in the Centennial Conference and is a long shot to reach the NCAA playoffs.

Gettysburg, the only team to beat three-time champion Middlebury, is coached by Hank Janczyk, who recruited Townsend to Salisbury and was his first coach there. Washington opened with narrow losses at Washington & Lee and Nazareth, but has won eight straight, including one at Gettysburg.

The Division III tournament has expanded to 17 teams, but no more than two can come from a single conference.

Salisbury sets the pace in the Capital Athletic Conference, where its record since the league formed in 1995 is 50-0. On April 5, the Sea Gulls destroyed Gettysburg, 17-2. Five days later, they lost to Lynchburg. Salisbury has gotten 36 goals and 26 assists from senior attackman Josh Bergey, who sat out last season because of academics.

The missing Ryans

The Case of the Missing Ryan turned out differently for two sets of Tigers.

Seven days ago, No. 12 Towson played UMBC without its most experienced offensive player, as Ryan Obloj sat out that game with a sprained ankle and the Tigers' attack appeared rudderless in the first half of an overtime loss to the Retrievers. Obloj returned for a Colonial Athletic Association game at Villanova, and his two goals and two assists were the difference in a 13-10 victory that gave the Tigers the home-field advantage for the CAA playoffs.

Princeton's Ryan Boyle, a junior out of Gilman, injured a hamstring April 1 against Penn. He sat out a non-conference game with mismatched Quinnipiac and was sharp in his return against Harvard, registering six assists in the first 24 minutes of a 12-8 win. The Tigers need him, because Saturday they play at No. 11 Cornell, the only other unbeaten in the Ivy League.

Princeton makes its only regular-season appearance in Baltimore Tuesday, when the Tigers begin a series with Loyola at Curley Field.

Ground balls

Only the third Princeton player to reach 100 career assists, Boyle leads Division I players with 5.3 points per game. ... With 23 goals, Maryland's Joe Walters is the top freshman scorer in the nation. ... Mount St. Mary's has a 5-6 overall record, but everyone else in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is also below .500. ... For the second straight year, a computer may have to determine which Patriot League team gets to the NCAAs, as four of its seven teams have one league loss.

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