This check is delivered by the coach

Terps' Cottle starts slew of stick checks

many in running for attack honors


College Lacrosse

May 13, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

At the time, Maryland men's coach Dave Cottle probably had no idea that he might be initiating what has become the new trend in college lacrosse.

On April 17 at Homewood Field against Johns Hopkins, Cottle watched Blue Jays midfielder Frank Potucek fight through two checks and score to seemingly give the hosts a 10-2 lead.

Thinking Potucek couldn't have shrugged off the checks and possessed the ball with a legal stick, Cottle asked the referees for a stick check and his intuition proved right. Potucek's stick was illegal, the goal was wiped off the board and the Blue Jays were assessed a penalty.

"It wasn't gamesmanship at all." said Cottle, who said the stick check was the first one he has called in 22 years of head coaching. "It's a rule and it's our responsibility as coaches [to enforce it]."

A week later, Georgetown coach Dave Urick got a key Massachusetts goal wiped off the board because of an illegal stick.

Two weeks ago, Princeton coach Bill Tierney successfully challenged a Dartmouth player's stick and the Tigers scored twice with the ensuing man advantage.

On Saturday, Maryland midfielder Ian Healy was caught twice by Pennsylvania with an illegal stick - one of which negated a Terps goal.

Stick checks are nothing new - Tierney once got a Syracuse goal nullified in the 1993 final four because of an illegal stick - but they have, according to several coaches, become much more common recently.

UMBC coach Don Zimmerman requested three stick checks in one game earlier this year against the Terps.

"I don't know if it's happening more and more, but you are certainly hearing about it more." Cottle said. "I think coaches realize that there's an awful lot of illegal sticks out there and you do it because you feel the other team has an unfair advantage."

Coaches are allowed one free stick check per game without penalty. If he calls for a second one and the stick under question is found to be legal, his team loses a timeout. However, if a stick is deemed illegal, the guilty party is assessed a three- minute non-releasable penalty.

Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala was so furious after Potucek's goal was wiped out that he called Cottle's stick check "bush league' in an interview with Channel 2's Keith Mills after halftime of the live broadcast. Pietramala later admitted that he made a mistake and has since apologized to Cottle and the Terps' coaching staff.

Pennsylvania coach Brian Voelker also was apologetic to Cottle after calling for two on Healy.

"To look upon the coach as a villain after checking an illegal stick is so backward." Tierney said. "Kids are manipulating sticks, they"re baking them, they"re fooling with the pockets. There's just no room for that. This game is supposed to be played on equal grounds."

All-America logjam

Syracuse attackman Michael Powell, who became his school's all-time leading scorer on Friday, will undoubtedly receive All-America honors for a fourth straight year, but who joins him as first-team attackman is stirring plenty of debate.

Maryland's Joe Walters is the Atlantic Coast Conference's Player of the Year, beating out other standout attackmen like North Carolina's Jed Prossner and Virginia's Matt Ward.

Princeton's Ryan Boyle is having another superb year, and Hopkins" Conor Ford has been the most productive attackman on the nation's No. 1 team, but is not a returning first-team All- American, like linemate Kyle Barrie.

Attackmen Joe Bossi and Ian Dingman have fueled Navy's rise, Bucknell's little-known Chris Cara leads the nation with 78 points and Notre Dame's Patrick Walsh might be the most versatile at his position.

Ground balls

With four assists against Brown on Saturday, Princeton senior attackman and Gilman alum Boyle (217 points) passed Jon Hess and moved into second place on the Tigers" all-time scoring list, behind only Kevin Lowe (247 points). Army sophomore attackman John Walker, who is ninth in the country with 33 goals and 20 assists, is the son of former New York Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker.

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