Goucher gets serious about lacrosse

Gophers play Middlebury Saturday in Division III tournament

May 11, 2010|By Mike Preston

There was a time when local players laughed about playing at nearby Goucher, but it's not so funny anymore.

When the Gophers (14-3) beat Catholic, 11-4, on Saturday to win the Landmark Conference, they also earned the automatic qualifier to participate in the 23-team Division III tournament.

Goucher will be on the road Wednesday in a first-round game against traditional power Middlebury (12-5). Whatever the outcome, the 2010 season has been a major victory for the Gophers.

"Already, we've had more communication with local kids than ever before," Goucher coach Kyle Hannan said. "In the past, we were considered too close, with everything being played in our own backyard, so to speak.

"We're getting more recognition now with people who want to know more about Goucher, our facilities and what we have to offer. Now that we're on the national stage, we want to stay on it regularly," he said. "It's been a good year for Division III lacrosse in the state with Salisbury and Stevenson having good years, and now we're in the playoffs with them."

Middlebury won three straight national championships from 2000 to 2002, and the Panthers were in the finals in 2003 and 2005.

"This is another big step for us," Hannan said. "We're playing a new team — one with great tradition. This is exciting for our program, and I'm happy for the players and the coaches."

Sad circumstances

Much has been made about Virginia officials not canceling the season for the men's lacrosse team after Virginia midfielder George Huguely was charged with murdering Yeardley Love, a player on the women's team.

The entire situation is tragic, but sometimes it's best to wait and make a sound decision instead of rushing to judgment. This ordeal has been tough to process even for those on the outside looking in.

Mount St. Mary's has to go to Charlottesville on Saturday night to play the top-seeded Cavaliers. Mountaineers coach Tom Gravante is preparing his team for the possible media circus.

Mount St. Mary's played Virginia in the Mountaineers' season opener Feb. 23 and lost, 15-7.

"Our players definitely know what is going on, and we're going to talk about it as a team tomorrow," Gravante said Monday. "We're going to send our thoughts and prayers to both families involved, and we're certainly not going to use any of that as motivation. Right now, though, I don't think our feet have touched the ground, and our focus is to just go down there and have some fun.

"It's a playoff game, and we're one of 16 teams in the country still playing," said Gravante. "This time around, I think our kids will be less pressured. We played young and hesitant the first time around, not as loose as I wanted to be. We're more poised and confident, but so is Virginia regardless of the situation. I'm just happy for our kids because they put in a lot of hard work to get to this point."

Hopkins bedevils Duke

Hopkins had to win its final game of the regular season to get into the NCAA tournament, and one team that can't be happy is No. 5 Duke (12-4), which hosts the Blue Jays (7-7) on Saturday.

Hopkins has struggled with fast teams this season, but the Blue Jays have virtually owned the Blue Devils in the playoffs. Hopkins has a 12-4 advantage in the series and is 3-1 against Duke in the postseason, with all four games decided by a goal.

Hopkins beat Duke in the 2005 and 2007 national championship games, and also in the 2008 semifinals.

Blue Devils head coach John Danowski will be exorcising a lot of ghosts in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area this week.

Respect the Pride

No. 3 Maryland (11-3) drew Hofstra (9-4) for a first-round game Saturday, and the Pride is one of those teams few teams like to play because it is so unpredictable.

There are quite a lot of fans wondering how the Pride even got into the tournament, but Terps' head coach Dave Cottle is not one of them.

"They are a top 10 in scoring and a top 10 in defense, and the only other team to accomplish that is Syracuse," Cottle said. "They have a very good midfield and a very dangerous attack. We've got our work cut out for us."

Hofstra is led by attackmen Jamie Lincoln (33 goals, 20 assists), Jay Card (27, 22) and Kevin Ford (14, 6).

From depressing to exciting

Loyola coach Charley Toomey was on the selection committee for the NCAA Division I tournament, but he didn't give his players any advance notice about their being one of the 16 teams selected Sunday night.

Greyhounds defenseman Steve Layne watched the field being announced with his teammates. Layne had more at stake than some of them because he is a senior who had missed the past two games with a knee sprain.

"I was doing a lot of sweating," Layne said. "I heard them call Hofstra's name against Maryland, and they were one of the bubble teams. Then I heard them call Notre Dame, and that's when I started making summer plans because that left only two games, and Army was in one because they were an automatic qualifier.

"When they called Loyola, it went from pretty depressing to very exciting in the snap of a finger."

With the additional week, Layne, the Greyhounds' best defenseman, should be on the field Saturday against No. 7 Cornell.

"I went out and warmed up for the Hopkins game, and I could have played, but I don't think I could have helped my team," he said. "But with this additional week, I'll play against Cornell."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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