JHU, fellow lacrosse `giants' to face off in '08

November 07, 2007|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,Sun reporter

For the second consecutive year, four of the biggest teams in college lacrosse will meet for an early-season doubleheader at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on March 1 will feature the four teams that have won every NCAA Division I championship since 1991: Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Virginia and Syracuse.

"Nothing is more exciting than watching the giants of a sport play each other," said Bob Carpenter, publisher of Inside Lacrosse. "We want to make this event an annual fixture."

Dave Pietramala, who coaches Hopkins, the reigning national champion, said the excitement extends to his players as well.

"It's a great thing to sell in recruiting. Our freshmen, in their second game, will get to play in a pro stadium in front of a big crowd and use a pro locker room. You can't put a price tag on that," he said. "That's a playoff atmosphere."

The first game, at noon, will pit Virginia, ranked No. 3 in the preseason, against No. 11 Syracuse. In the second game, Hopkins will face Princeton, ranked No. 8.

In last year's event, featuring the same four teams, Hopkins topped Princeton, 7-6, in double overtime.

"We were fortunate to come out on the positive side of that," Pietramala said. "Coming off a loss in our previous game, it was huge under those circumstances."

But, perhaps more important for lacrosse, the crowd of 20,180 fans broke the regular-season attendance record for a Division I game.

"Our final four attracts 50,000 people for a huge celebration of lacrosse," said Carpenter, whose publication is in its 10th year. "We're looking to create a bookend for the season with the same experience."

Carpenter said title sponsor Konica Minolta was looking for sports marketing ventures and was drawn by the lacrosse demographic.

The Sun is a presenting sponsor of the event.

For local fans, it will be a chance to see Hopkins begin its title defense, led by senior midfielders Stephen Peyser and Paul Rabil.

Tickets are $15 for reserved seats and $25 for club-level seats. They can be ordered at the Baltimore Ravens' box office, 410-261-RAVE or at ticketmaster.com.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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