Hibernation could be over for Hopkins' high-octane offense

ON LACROSSE

March 21, 2007|By MIKE PRESTON

When Johns Hopkins routed Syracuse, 17-9, on Saturday, it wasn't just an impressive win for the Blue Jays, but also a wake-up call for the rest of college men's lacrosse.

If Hopkins' offense continues to develop and the Blue Jays can find a defenseman who can match up with an opponent's top scorer, they are going to be extremely tough to beat.

No. 3 Hopkins (4-1) has a dominant offense, and it was only a matter of time before the Blue Jays unleashed it. They scored only nine goals in a win over Hofstra and seven in a double-overtime victory over Princeton. Most of the scoring had come from two freshmen -- attackman Steven Boyle and midfielder Michael Kimmel.

But it was only a matter of time before the upperclassmen showed up. You can't hold down players like Jake Byrne, Paul Rabil, Kevin Huntley and Stephen Peyser for an entire season. They have too much skill, speed and talent. Now that they seem to have meshed, it's scary for the rest of their opponents.

The Blue Jays have a big-game goalie, Jesse Schwartzman, who can keep them in any game. If they can tighten up the defense, look out. Until then, Saturday's game at Homewood Field against No. 2 Virginia (6-1) could be a high-scoring affair.

Danes' defense

No. 6 Albany (5-0) has climbed near the top in a lot of national polls because the Great Danes can control a game with defense.

Albany has two players who can dictate the pace of a game, sophomore long-stick midfielder Chris Schongar and junior defenseman Craig McDonald. McDonald is a leader who has shut down the opponent's top scorer every week and has been a major weapon in clearing the ball.

Schongar is simply tenacious and dominates the midfield by swallowing up ground balls. He scored his first goal last week against Drexel.

"I wonder who you're talking about," Albany coach Scott Marr said, laughing.

"Craig does a really nice job of taking out the other team's top attackman, and that's great to have when you can take out the other team's quarterback. Chris is interchangeable as a defenseman and midfielder, and he is great on the transition."

Terps get physical

Everyone wants to talk about Maryland's struggling offense, but what about that great defense? The Terps have three really good defensemen, Ray Megill, Joe Cinosky and Steve Whittenberg. And they also have an outstanding longstick midfielder, freshman Brian Farrell, who has surprised a lot of people with his playing time this season.

What really separates Maryland's from other defenses is that the Terps like to hit. It's a physical bunch that can be very intimidating.

Maryland plays North Carolina this week, and the knock on the Tar Heels is that they wilt under pressure and can't sustain a high energy level for 60 minutes.

Years ago, we often heard this about Virginia before Dom Starsia replaced Ace Adams as the coach.

As for Maryland, we'll find out about this team in the next few weeks when it hosts North Carolina and Johns Hopkins and goes on the road to face Virginia and Navy.

Orange not out

Syracuse (2-3) played poorly last week against Hopkins, but don't ever count out the Orange.

We've all seen this act before. The Orange lose early in the season and then rally at the end to make the NCAA tournament and then the final four.

That might not happen this season, but I wouldn't bet against it.

The Orange struggles early because it can't get outside to practice because of the snow, and its indoor practice time is limited because the Carrier Dome becomes more of a priority for basketball.

Syracuse gave up two trash goals against Hopkins, and it needs to get more consistent play from its goalkeepers.

Syracuse also was rebounding from the suspensions of midfielders Pat Perritt and John Carrozza.

Clock is overdue

College lacrosse needs a 30-second shot clock. I've written it the past two years, and I'll lobby for it every season until the lords of lacrosse institute one.

Lacrosse is a great sport, but it's getting harder and harder to watch. We're in an era of specialization, where everyone wants to slow it down and bring out the offensive midfielders to replace the defensive midfielders.

What ever happened to two-way midfielders? Let's go back to the old days when lacrosse was fun and the fastest game on two feet. Unless it's Syracuse, Virginia or Towson, the games can put you to sleep at times. With all the TV coverage, a 30-second clock can only help the game.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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