Rout says Princeton on road to recovery

Freshmen providing lift

Hopkins offers acid test

Men's notebook

College Lacrosse

March 01, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

The healing began in earnest for Princeton 33 seconds into Saturday's season opener against visiting, overmatched Canisius. That's when junior attackman Scott Sowanick scored the year's first goal and started the Tigers moving toward a 16-6 rout.

This wasn't just any opener. This one came a year after Princeton, winner of six NCAA titles under 19-year coach Bill Tierney, tumbled in ways not seen since he took over the program.

Those Tigers lost their first five games, did not win until April, lacked speed and scorers and missed their first NCAA tournament since 1989.

These Tigers, ranked seventh and buoyed by a recruiting class ranked No. 1 by Inside Lacrosse, have a different look.

"We're much faster, much cleaner off the ground. I can't remember in a long time when the whole [freshman] class brought so much. They're refreshing. They have no bad memories. We'll see what happens when a little adversity comes," said Tierney, whose team will face a stern test Saturday at No. 4 Johns Hopkins.

Hopkins, the defending national champion, returned six starters. The Blue Jays have not lost a home game in nearly five years and have not lost to Princeton at Homewood since 2000.

Tierney decided to schedule Canisius once the Ivy League relaxed its longtime restrictions against playing regular-season games in February. Given the youth of his squad and last year's 5-7 finish, it made sense.

None of the freshmen started against Canisius, although Tierney said five or six could be starters before long. But the eight-man class made itself heard.

Attackman Tommy Davis had a three-goal game, becoming the first Princeton player to pull off the feat in his first game since Jesse Hubbard did it in 1995. Midfielder Mark Kovler scored twice. Midfielder Josh Lesko had a goal. Midfielder Greg Seaman, the son of Towson University coach Tony Seaman, won all three of his faceoffs.

"We've been talking about last year since the ride home from the Cornell game [a 17-4 rout that dropped Princeton to 3-7]. That guaranteed we wouldn't have a winning season," said Tierney, who used 45 players against Canisius and is working with 11 of last season's top 12 scorers.

"Ever since that day, all through the fall season and up until now, we've talked about improvement."

At Princeton, the healing is under way.

Terps' statement

Maryland continues to own Georgetown. The second-ranked Terps improved their record to 6-0 against the No. 10 Hoyas with Saturday's season-opening, 10-4 drubbing.

But the most noteworthy aspect of the victory was how Maryland rolled without senior attackman Joe Walters filling up the net.

Walters, who had three assists, was hardly quiet. But for only the fourth time in his 50-game career, he did not score a goal.

The Ritz brothers, Max and Xander, were the offensive stars for the Terps. They combined to score eight of Maryland's goals. Max was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week after scoring five points.

Walters has led Maryland in scoring in each of the past three years and needs 33 goals to become No. 1 in school history.

Maybe this is an early sign that the Terps will be as good as advertised. Maryland returns nine starters, not to mention its top two long-stick midfielders, its top four short-stick defensive midfielders and its top three faceoff men.

And the Terps didn't need Walters' shooting to control Georgetown, which went more than 38 minutes without a goal.

By the way, Maryland is now 77-3-1 in season openers.

Dingman in form

It's still early and Navy (2-0) has yet to play top-flight competition, but the Mids look impressive, and it seems like old times as far as junior attackman Ian Dingman is concerned.

Two years after leading the Midshipmen to the NCAA title game with a team-high 62 points and after leaving the academy to get his academic standing straight, the 260-pound Dingman has five goals and three assists, tops on the team.

Coach Richie Meade liked the way Dingman kept his teammates involved in Friday's 9-3 rout over Ohio State with two goals and two assists.

"I thought Ian did a good job of not trying to completely take over the game, even though [the Buckeyes] had a short stick [defender] on him," Meade said.

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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