COLLEGE PARK -- North Carolina finally got Steve Vecchione's number. The Tar Heels wore down Johns Hopkins' faceoff specialist with numbers.
Vecchione, who had won 74 percent of his faceoffs this season, won only seven of 27 in yesterday's 16-10 loss to North Carolina. Freshman Milford Marchant was 1-for-2.
The Tar Heels used Donnie McNichol (9 of 12), Jude Collins (9 of 13), Ryan Wade and Jason Sanders for a 21-of-29 edge over Johns Hopkins.
"It's a lot harder to do all the faceoffs yourself," McNichol said. "It's very taxing. It was a matter of tiring him out, and he was tired.
"We threw two guys at him and wore him down. He has a limited selection of moves, so it was a matter of feeling him out, finding what he could do, and then combating it."
Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman, calling every faceoff "a free-for-all," was unwilling to concede that North Carolina wore down Vecchione. "Most of their faceoffs weren't won on the initial faceoff," Seaman said. "They've got great technique. Whenever Vecchione got it, they held his stick." That, Seaman added, in an apparent dig at the referees, "is hard for anyone to see."
Check it out
A Syracuse goal was disallowed in the third quarter after Princeton coach Bill Tierney called for a check on the stick of Orangemen leading scorer Matt Riter. The stick was found to be illegally bent.
"A bent shaft gives a distinct shooting advantage," Tierney said. "It's a big problem in lacrosse. In Riter's case, we've seen it in movies all year."
Syracuse coach Roy Simmons acknowledged that Riter's stick had been checked frequently this year -- as recently as last week in the quarterfinals against Hofstra -- but not found to be illegal. "Matt is a dodger and takes a lot of hits," Simmons said, indicating that opponents may have battered the stick. "I really can't comment further."
Packing them in . . .
The crowd of 21,529 was the second largest for a college lacrosse game, shy only of the 23,893 for the 1989 NCAA final in which Syracuse beat Johns Hopkins, 13-12.
That game, too, was at Byrd Stadium. The semifinals that year drew 20,263 for a Final Four record 44,156. North Carolina and Syracuse need 22,628 in tomorrow's final to break that record.
. . . and jamming, too
Gothard Lane, a Maryland assistant athletic director, apologized for the massive traffic jam near Byrd Stadium. He said the university didn't anticipate a 14,000 walk-up ticket sale and that Maryland State Police would join campus police today (for the Division III championship) and tomorrow (for the Division I final) to speed traffic.
Heels on the run
If people think North Carolina plays a running game, they haven't seen anything unless they've seen the Tar Heels practice, according to Wade.
Wade, a junior midfielder out of Severn, said: "We run so hard during the week, a game is like a day off."
Hearing that, coach Dave Klarmann rolled his eyes, but held his tongue.
Not a film fan
Klarmann places little faith in film study. North Carolina played Syracuse once this season (winning, 14-10) and he glanced at one film. That was enough.
"I'm not a film guy," Klarmann said. "Films are for posterity and for showing to Johnny's parents."
Yesterday's game was Klarmann's first as a sideline coach in 34 days. He was suspended by the NCAA from North Carolina's tournament opener for inappropriate behavior (body contact with NCAA representative) during last year's Final Four.
In his final college game, Hopkins' tiny (145-pound) Brian Kelly scored three goals, giving him five against North Carolina this season. . . . With four goals, senior Steve Speers broke into Carolina's top 10 career goals chart with 80, tied with Gary Seivold (1984-87). Speers' five points matched his career high for the sixth time. . . . Fellow senior attackman John Webster had five points to raise his career total to 183, seven behind Michael Burnett (1980-83) and Dennis Goldstein (1987-91), who are tied for No. 3 on the school's list.