Falatach finds niche in 2nd year for N. Carolina

With musical chairs over, scoring prowess on view

Notebook

College Lacrosse

March 18, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

It wasn't simply adjusting to the speed of the game or the size of the defenders.

For North Carolina sophomore attackman Scott Falatach, the hardest part of the transition from high school to college involved a mental adjustment more than anything physical.

"It was assuming a role that was not as large as the one I had in high school," said Falatach, who recorded 111 points during his senior year at St. Mary's, grabbing All-Metro Player of the Year honors and the C. Markland Kelly Award, given to the state's best high school lacrosse player.

"Everyone was a really good high school player, but in college, everyone has to mold together as a team."

The rumors started circulating early last season that Falatach, a Stevensville native, was unhappy in Chapel Hill and would possibly transfer. Falatach denied that, but did admit it was a difficult transition.

Still, the 6-foot, 185-pounder scored 13 goals last season to go with seven assists while being shuttled between midfield and attack.

Once Tar Heels coach John Haus permanently established him as an attackman last year, the talented and elusive player flourished.

Playing through a torn meniscus in his knee, which he had surgery on last fall, he scored eight goals and has had three assists in his last three games, including a four-goal, one-assist effort in an overtime loss to Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

That performance earned the freshman a place on the all-tournament team.

"At that point, we realized [attack] is where he belonged," said Haus, who has Michael Burnett, Falatach's coach at St. Mary's, on staff as an assistant. "He's a very, very hungry individual in terms of wanting to be a goal scorer. He goes very hard to the goal with not a lot of fear."

This year, Falatach, exclusively on attack, is second on the team on scoring to Jed Prossner, another former All-Metro Player of the Year (McDonogh), having recorded 11 goals and three assists.

He is now focused on getting the Tar Heels into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998.

Ranked seventh, North Carolina is 4-1 after winning three road games in six days last week, beating ranked Air Force, Denver and Notre Dame.

"Our team learned a lot last year," said Falatach. "In the offseason, we knew we could be the most talented team in Division I and we didn't prove it. We are aware that we have the reputation of being underachievers, but we want that to end."

Syracuse surging

Even by their standards, the Orangemen are scoring at a torrid pace entering their showdown with top-ranked Johns Hopkins on Saturday.

In three games - all against ranked teams - the No 3 Orangemen (3-0) have 56 goals, or 18.7 a game. Fourteen players have scored for Syracuse, which hasn't racked up this many goals to start a season since 1990.

That year, the Orangemen had 58 goals in three games, though the total was inflated by the 26 they laid on St. John's.

This year's team boasts two All-Americans on offense in midfielder Sean Lindsay and three-time Attackman of the Year Michael Powell, both of whom are in double figures in points, with Powell (10 goals, nine assists) leading all Orangemen.

The surprise has been sophomore Brian Crockett, who was a midfielder last season, but was moved to attack this year to replace the graduated Michael Springer. Crockett already has a team-high 13 goals after having 20 all of last year.

Peyser's big numbers

Crockett (five goals, one assists against Notre Dame), Prossner (six goals against Notre Dame) and Rutgers senior attackman Delby Powless (seven goals against Quinnipiac) all put up the numbers this past weekend, but the best stat line last week belonged to Johns Hopkins midfielder Greg Peyser. In the Blue Jays' 13-6 victory over Hofstra, the sophomore had one goal, one assist, was 15-for-15 on faceoffs and scooped up 14 ground balls.

The week ahead

Johns Hopkins (4-0)

Schedule: vs. Syracuse, Saturday, 1

Skinny: If the Blue Jays' close defense is able to even slow Syracuse's attack, it should finally start getting the credit it has long deserved.

Loyola (1-2)

Schedule: vs. Notre Dame, Saturday, 1

Skinny: Unlike last year, the Greyhounds are getting their chances; they just aren't finishing them. The Irish haven't had that problem.

Maryland (4-0)

Schedule: at UMBC, Saturday, 1

Skinny: The weather forced Bucknell to travel to College Park, where its reception was even chillier. The Terps cannot afford to look past UMBC.

Mount St. Mary's (0-3)

Schedule: vs. Manhattan, today, 3; vs. Siena, Saturday, 2

Skinny: Things are slipping for the Mount, but two opponents that went 6-23 last year should provide relief. Amazingly, Siena doesn't open its season until today.

Navy (4-1)

Schedule: vs. Colgate in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, noon

Skinny: The Mids' opposition hasn't been formidable, but that changes: Army, Georgetown and Maryland are up next for a team growing in confidence.

Towson (1-2)

Schedule: vs. Virginia, Sunday, 1

Skinny: Nobody was cheering harder for UVa. last week than Towson coach Tony Seaman. The Cavs are desperate for a win, but a victory would be huge for the Tigers, too.

UMBC (2-1)

Schedule: vs. Maryland, Saturday, 1

Skinny: The Retrievers' young attack has looked good, though it hasn't faced a defense like Maryland's. UMBC has just four wins in 24 games against the Terps.

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