It's a goalkeeper's dream: a one-goal NCAA tournament game. A dream which could prove to be a reality for many goalies over the next three weeks.
"Goalkeepers can make more of a difference than anyone else on the field," Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman said. "Goalies win a lot of games, win a lot of championships. I really don't know if there are any [Maryland's Brian] Dougherty's or [Hopkins' Quint] Kessenich's out there now. If there are, just don't let them play against me."
The first round includes three rematches in Loyola-Notre Dame, Duke-Brown, Hofstra-Massachusetts, all of which were decided by one goal. Although Brown and Hofstra won their games in overtime, Duke and Massachusetts are the seeded teams because of more quality wins.
The Brown-Duke contest, which pits the goalkeeping battle between the Bears' Greg Cattrano and the Blue Devils' Joe Kirmser, could decide who makes first-team All-America. Not coincidentally, four of the past five Most Outstanding Players of the tournament have been goalkeepers.
"Whenever I hear someone say 'tournament,' I think of goalkeeping," Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. "I think there has only been a couple of teams that have had the best goalie and not won the championship."
The only opening-round game in which both teams haven't met in the regular season is the matchup of Georgetown-Maryland. However, they met in a scrimmage in February with the Terps winning by a goal.
When Maryland faces Georgetown at Towson on Sunday, the game could weigh heavily on the goalkeeping of the Hoyas' Brian Hole and the Terps' Sean Keenan, both of whom have struggled at times.
"The goalies will play a bigger part on Saturday and Sunday when the teams are that close," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "You don't want to say too much about that because there's enough pressure by virtue of that position."
The first-round winners will have a difficult time advancing to the Final Four. Princeton, Virginia and Johns Hopkins haven't lost to any team outside of the top four seeds.
Top-seeded Princeton is a pre-tournament favorite and is attempting to become the first repeat national champion this decade. The top-seeded team has played in the national championship in seven of the past nine years.
The Tigers, who won their first three games by a goal, recorded the first perfect regular season since Hopkins in 1995.
The Blue Jays finished 12-0 that year but had their season brought to an end by Maryland, a team they beat by a goal in the regular season, in the Final Four.
No. 3 Syracuse, which hasn't missed a Final Four since 1982, rests most of its success on goalkeeper Jason Gebhardt.
The Orangemen appear less than imposing, having lost to Brown by eight goals and Georgetown by five, and only beating Hobart by a goal in their season finale.
"You hear Syracuse can't play outside of the dome," Orangemen coach Roy Simmons said. "Well, you look at our two best games of the year, Loyola and Massachusetts. Both have been on natural turf and our goalie was the key."
Johns Hopkins appears to face the toughest playoff road. The Blue Jays, who last won an the title in 1987, will probably have to beat Duke and Princeton to reach the championship game.
Hopkins, Duke and Princeton are considered to have the top defensive units in the nation.
"Obviously, you look at what Princeton has done," Massachusetts coach Greg Cannella said. "Defense and goalkeeping has won them championships. It should be the trend this year, too."
Men's first round
Tomorrow's games At West Point, N.Y.
Duke (10-3) vs. Brown (8-6), noon
Massachusetts (8-5) vs. Hofstra (9-5), 2: 45 p.m.
Pub Date: 5/09/97