Coaching ball is still rolling in lacrosse circles

In an ordinary year, lacrosse would be all but out of the news by this time and the nation's coaches would be getting ready to run their lucrative summer camps.

Princeton has won the NCAA Division I championship for the second time in three years. Salisbury State wears the crown in Division III. Mount Washington has won the U.S. Club Lacrosse Association Southern Division title.


This is no ordinary year, though.

There's plenty of activity still ahead and plenty going on now -- including some intriguing, behind-the-scenes politicking for Division I head coaching jobs.


After four seasons, coach G. W. Mix is parting company with Penn. The contractual details of his departure are being worked out.

Until 1988, when coach Tony Seaman took Penn to the Division I semifinals and lost in the last three seconds to eventual champion Syracuse, Penn was not a big deal in lacrosse.

But Seaman, who switched to Johns Hopkins four years ago, changed that. He and his team gave the Quakers a taste of life at the top. They liked it. They want more of it.

Now Princeton coach Bill Tierney has changed the perception of lacrosse in the Ivy League, of which Penn is a member.

Although few thought it was possible before 1992, championships obviously can be won by Ivy schools. Penn will want its next coach to compete with Princeton -- and, of course, with Brown, which won the league title this year and went to the Final Four.

What's more, the next Penn coach will be expected to hold his own against Tierney in the recruiting wars. That's not going to be easy. But that's what Penn is looking for.

The two names most frequently mentioned for the Penn job belong to defensive coordinators at Baltimore colleges: John Haus at Hopkins and Dave Pietramala at Loyola.

Pietramala, when he was All-American at Hopkins, was coached by Haus, who came out of North Carolina in 1982.


Penn knows Pietramala. He was an assistant there for two years under Mix before moving to Loyola. Dave Cottle, Loyola's coach, says Petro is an outstanding coach and a fine head coaching prospect. So, too, is Haus after seven years on the Hopkins staff.

There's another coach in our state -- Salisbury State's Jim Berkman -- who has drawn the attention of Division I schools. Winning a national championship has been known to do that for a Division III coach.

Another possibility at Penn is Jimmy Stagnitta, who played there under Seaman and is now head coach at Division III Washington and Lee.

Navy also could be making a change. Look for Bryan Matthews, Navy's lacrosse coach for the past dozen years, to become the athletic director at his alma mater, Washington College. Geoff Miller leaves Chestertown this summer to take over as A.D. at Goucher College.

Matthews coached the Shoremen for five years. He and his wife enjoy life on the Shore.

Just as importantly, the people on the Shore like Matthews.


Says Tom Finnegan, longtime basketball coach at Washington College: "I'd love to see Bryan come back here. He'd be great for us."

Says Bobby Martino, a recent lacrosse-playing graduate: "All the alumni are writing and calling school to ask them to hire Matthews."

If Matthews leaves Navy, that job will be sought by some talented coaches.

Matt Hogan, on Matthews' staff, would be an attractive candidate. Ithaca College coach Jeff Long, a Navy grad, would be another.

And at West Point, coach Jack Emmer has a highly regarded assistant, Richie Meade, who would be a strong candidate at Navy.

Meade was the head coach at the University of Baltimore until that school dropped intercollegiate sports. Meade also has coached at North Carolina.


There will be no change at Hopkins despite anything you may have heard in the wake of the Blue Jays' 9-5 season. Hopkins is happy with Seaman. At least Bob Scott, who will retire as A.D. a year from now, is happy with him.

There's a widespread assumption that the alumni at Hopkins have a "win or else" mentality when it comes to lacrosse coaches.

Hopkins hasn't won a title since 1987. This year the Jays failed to make the Final Four, although they took Princeton into overtime in the quarterfinals. Many thought Hopkins outplayed Princeton and deserved to win.

"It's absurd for people to think we're going to fire Tony," says Scott. "As long as the team is competitive and the players are enjoying the experience, he's fine."

Seaman will be the busiest coach in the country this summer. He's the head coach of the U.S. team that will play in the World Games in Manchester, England, July 20-30.

This coming weekend the annual Lacrosse Classic will be staged at Hopkins. One of the features will be an appearance by the U.S. team playing against a Club All-Star squad at 7:30 Saturday night.


There will be more passion in that game than you might think. Most of the all-stars were cut by the U.S. team. They have something to prove.

Saturday afternoon at 2:30, 8333083Mount Washington will play Long Island for the U.S. Club championship. A dozen players from that game will be playing a doubleheader. The Mounties and Long Island each have six players on the U.S. squad.