In his first college lacrosse game, Jonathan Marcus faced Princeton, the defending national champion. He has played at No. 1 North Carolina and in the Carrier Dome, where 10,000 fans rose and howled in crescendo with every Syracuse fast break.
Marcus, a freshman goalie for Johns Hopkins, has shown little emotion through the toughest schedule in college lacrosse. Coach Tony Seaman is still waiting for him to pump a fist after a one-on-one save or slam a stick after a defenseman fails to slide and it costs the Blue Jays a goal.
Marcus will be composed once he gets on the Byrd Stadium turf in front of 20,000 or so to face North Carolina in Saturday's NCAA tournament semifinals, but the calm demeanor usually follows a case of the jitters.
"I get real nervous before games," Marcus said. "My roommate knows that. Right now I'm pretty nervous about facing North Carolina, and if I stay shaky, it'll be a long week. But once the game starts, all that goes away. I'm focused then. Yelling at defensemen or the other team isn't going to change the past or make me a better goalie."
Marcus has been keeping his cool ever since his older brother Chris constructed a goal in the backyard of their Long Island home and stuck him in it. He was introduced to Princeton nine months after he ended his prep career and six days before his 19th birthday, but those events seem ages ago.
Marcus is allowing 10 goals a game with a .598 save percentage. He's two saves shy of the Hopkins record for saves in a season. After 14 games, he doesn't feel like a freshman anymore.
"The competition made me mature in a hurry," Marcus said. "It's extra hard to rebound after a hard game, but you have to perform at a high level every time out here. Every team is out to get us because we're Hopkins."
North Carolina has 15 seniors and Hopkins uses seven, and Marcus symbolizes the Blue Jays' youth. Thus far they've shown great potential, but after regular-season losses to North Carolina, Princeton and Syracuse, the other three Final Four participants, the Blue Jays need to break through in a hurry if they're going to bring Hopkins its first NCAA title since 1987.
If Seaman and company are looking for an omen, Hopkins' last title came with a freshman, Quint Kessenich, in goal. The first of Hopkins' seven titles, in 1974, also featured a freshman goalie, Kevin Mahon.
Marcus wasn't heavily recruited out of high school, in part because it was obvious early he'd be going to Hopkins. Through Lynbrook (N.Y.) High, he was linked to Seaman and the Kessenich family.
Seaman coached there from 1972-80, and Kessenich was a graduate in 1986. An earlier Lynbrook star was Pace Kessenich, who played at Navy and came back as an assistant in Marcus' junior year before taking over at Colgate. Sarah Kes
senich, their mother, teaches mathematics at Lynbrook.
"I watched him play for three years in high school, and we wanted him badly," Seaman said. "He was OK in fall practice, nothing spectacular, and John Banks was going to be our starter. Jonathan stepped his whole game up in February and Banks agreed when we made the change."
The season hasn't been as smooth. Marcus broke a bone in his left thumb in February, and still wears a protective brace. He was bothered by a sinus infection most of last week, and last Saturday, the day of Hopkins' quarterfinal against Virginia, he awoke and told roommate Dave Marr he didn't think he could play. Marcus blanked the Cavaliers in the decisive fourth quarter.
Hopkins was 4-2 after its April 3 loss at North Carolina, but Marcus and the all-senior close defense of Tom Sullivan, Scott Mollica and Rob Burke allowed less than nine goals a game during a six-game win streak. The streak and the average was shot in the 21-17 loss at Syracuse on May 7 that closed the regular season.
"I asked him afterward, 'Couldn't you pick the ball up?' and he said no, he just played horrible," Seaman said. "That's Marcus -- no excuses. His demeanor is always on a straight line."
Unless he has to wait four days for the NCAA semifinals.
Coach: Tony Seaman (27-12 in three years)
Scoring leaders: Sophomore attackman Terry Riordan (46 goals, assists); junior attackman Brian Piccola (36, 24); senior midfielder Brian Kelly (18, 10); freshman attackman Dave Marr (5, 23)
Faceoff specialist: Senior Steve Vecchione (214-116, .648 percentage)
Goalie: Freshman Jonathan Marcus (208 saves, 140 goals, .598 percentage)
Last Final Four appearance: 1992 (lost to Syracuse in semifinals, 21-16)
NCAA titles: 1974 (coach Bob Scott), 1978, 1979, 1980 (Henry Ciccarone), 1984, 1985, 1987 (Don Zimmerman)
.. .. .. .. .. 1993 results.. .. ..
11 .. .. .. .. .. Princeton .. .. 13
24 .. .. .. .. .. Washington .. .. 14
15 .. .. .. .. .. Georgetown .. .. 11
15 .. .. .. .. .. Rutgers .. .. .. 11
11 .. .. .. .. .. Virginia .. .. .. 9
9 .. . .. .. .. North Carolina .. 14
17 .. .. .. .. .. .. Army .. .. .. .9
19 .. .. .. .. .. Maryland.. .. ..11
16 .. .. .. .. .. .. Loyola .. .. .11
11 .. .. .. .. .. .. Navy .. .. .. .8
11 .. .. .. .. .. .. Hofstra .. .. .5
11 .. .. .. .. .. Towson State .. ..9
17 .. .. .. .. .. .. Syracuse.. .. 21
14 .. .. .. .. .. .. Virginia-x .. 10