Navy men's recent MO against UNC: OT

4 of teams' past 5 meetings have gone past regulation

Notebook

March 10, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec and Kevin Van Valkenburg | Jeff Zrebiec and Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

It is not as publicized as the four straight 6-5 losses to Maryland from 1999 to 2002, but the Navy men's lacrosse team has a streak of overtime games against North Carolina that is becoming nearly as improbable.

The Midshipmen's 9-8 win Friday over the host Tar Heels, secured on Clipper Lennon's goal with 2:31 left in overtime, marked the fourth time in five games that extra time was needed to decide a winner between the two teams.

It was also the fifth consecutive one-goal game, with Navy going 2-3 in those contests.

"I can't explain it," said Mids coach Richie Meade, whose team improved to 2-1 with the victory over then-No. 5 North Carolina. "It obviously is a big game for the both of us and both teams play very, very hard."

In 2002, North Carolina prevailed in the sixth overtime on Pat Jackson's goal. Last year, the Mids won, 9-8, in four overtimes on Eddy Holton's tally.

"Somebody said to me that this one ended kind of early and they were a little disappointed," said Meade, who praised the play of his goalie, Matt Russell. "Obviously, we were happy how it turned out."

In his first career start, Russell, a sophomore from Madison, Conn., made 12 saves. He was named the starter in practice last week over junior Seth DiNola, who started all 13 games last year and the first two this season.

Meade said that DiNola, who is extremely athletic, will back up Russell but also might play at defensive midfield.

Not do-or-die but close

It is still too early to start labeling games as "must wins," but that time is getting close for No. 14 Virginia, which fell to 1-3 with a loss to Syracuse on Saturday.

If the defending national champion loses to No. 5 Princeton in Charlottesville on Saturday, it would mark the Cavaliers' first four-game skid since 1987.

With a game against top-ranked Johns Hopkins in two weeks and two games possible with No. 2 Maryland (regular season and Atlantic Coast Conference tournament), there are still opportunities for Virginia to impress the NCAA tournament committee.

Virginia finished the 2001 regular season at 7-6, but received an NCAA bid largely on the basis of regular-season victories over Johns Hopkins and Maryland.

That could happen again as Virginia seeks to avoid becoming the first team since Cornell in 1972 to win a national championship and then fail to make the tournament the next year.

Terps take offense

The preseason scouting report for Maryland seemed fairly obvious: Great defense, but how are the Terps going to get any points?

Maryland, an NCAA tournament semifinalist last year, graduated five of its top six midfielders and four of its top five scorers.

But the Terps have had little trouble scoring, beating Georgetown, 14-5, in their opener and knocking off Duke, 17-12, on Saturday. Sophomores have scored 19 of Maryland's 31 goals.

Xander Ritz, a transfer from Delaware, had three goals and four assists against the Hoyas. His seven points were the most in a game by a Terp this season.

Sophomore Joe Walters, who led the Terps in scoring last year, had three goals against the Hoyas and four goals and two assists against the Blue Devils. Sophomore Bill McGlone added eight points (five goals, three assists) in the first two games, and classmate Brendan Healy had a goal and an assist against Georgetown.

"We knew we were a little more athletic and quicker than we have been. We just hoped some of the young kids could gain some confidence and start to play a little better," said Maryland coach Dave Cottle. "That's what's starting to happen."

The challenge now is to keep it up. Last season, Maryland averaged 13.1 goals in it first six games but scored just 8.7 per contest over its final 10.

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