Terps keep focus fine-tuned on final Princeton remains last interference

THE BALTIMORE SUN

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- When the Maryland men's lacrosse team finished off a 19-8 rout of Loyola on Saturday, the Terrapins celebrated with simple handshakes.

No helmets thrown into the air. No sticks launched across the field.

For once, Maryland isn't satisfied with just advancing to the NCAA championship game. The Terps, who are in their third final in four years, seem to have the right focus this time.

"There's still business to be taken care of yet," senior defenseman Brian Reese said. "The past two times we were here was a surprise. This time, we just expected it."

In 1995, the Terps posted one of the biggest upsets in tournament history, shocking No. 1 Johns Hopkins in the semifinals. Two days later, a drained Maryland team proved to be no contest for Syracuse in the title game.

And last year, Maryland made an emotional tournament run as an unseeded team, outgunning and outrunning Syracuse in the Final Four. But 48 hours later, Princeton slammed the listless Terps, 19-7.

"The game 364 days ago was a bitter, bitter memory," Maryland coach Dick Edell said. "That was a bitter bite for us in every way, shape and form. We had a wonderful team and a wonderful season. That was shattered on a horrendous Memorial Day performance."

Yet the odds seem to be shaping up for the Terps this season.

Maryland coasted on Saturday, pulling its starters midway through the fourth quarter.

And yesterday, the Terps had a casual practice, walking through certain strategies. Most of the afternoon involved lounging in front of the pool and actually joking around with each other, a scene rarely heard of for Maryland on the off-day before the championship game.

"The rest has to help, not just physically, but even mentally and stress-wise," Edell said. "When I looked at their faces with six to seven minutes left, I said, 'Wipe that smile off your face.' In retrospect, I'm glad they were smiling and relaxed."

Princeton didn't have that same leisure.

In their semifinal game against Syracuse on Saturday, the Tigers sweated out the 11-10 victory for the full 60 minutes. The devastating twist for Princeton came with 19 seconds remaining when its top defenseman, senior Christian Cook, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and appears sidelined today.

"Maryland had more rest and there's a lot of concern over that," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said. "We just have to replenish ourselves in practice today."

The only concern for Maryland is winning its first national championship since 1975. It would also be the first national title for Edell, a Dundalk native, who is affectionately called "Big Man" his players.

"One thing I want to do is win a national championship for my coach," Reese said. "It means more to win it for him than for me. He's been doing this for 20 years and I've been here four. I want to give something back."

The Terps appear primed to accomplish that.

Maryland understands the rigors of playing two games in three days when it won its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship a month ago. Princeton has only played two games in a week twice.

The Terps sport more depth at midfield and could control tempo with a sizable advantage in faceoffs. The Tigers could be still catching their breath from a thrilling victory over Syracuse, which included a raucous on-field celebration.

But don't think the Terps have forgotten which school has celebrated two straight national titles and has won 41 of its past 42 games.

"We're not happy just being here this time," Maryland attackman Scott Hochstadt said. "We want to go nose-to-nose with them and win the game. We want to prove to the lacrosse world that we're just as good as them."

Princeton vs. Maryland

Tigers lineup

Attack, G, Sh, A, Pts

6 Chris Massey, 31, 101, 12, 43

9 Jon Hess, 12, 46, 35, 47

16 Jesse Hubbard, 42, 113, 8, 50

First midfield, G, Sh, A, Pts

4 Josh Sims, 31, 66, 4, 35

13 Spencer Baugher, 3, 14, 0, 3

43 Lorne Smith, 19, 64, 8, 27

Second midfield, G, Sh, A, Pts

1 Rob Torti, 10, 32, 2, 12

23 Seamus Grooms, 10, 35, 4, 14

44 Mark Whaling, 10, 22, 2, 12

Defensive midfield, Ht, Wt, GB

28 Chris Berrier, 6-0, 200, 50

35 Ted Martell (LS), 6-0, 175, 29

40 Gardner LaMotte, 6-2, 180, 13

Close defense, Ht, Wt, GB

2 John Harrington, 6-2, 180, 66

27 Kurt Lunkenheimer, 6-2, 215, 44

45 Jason Farrell, 6-0, 200, 10

Goalkeeper, GA, Sv, Pct., GAA

3 Corey Popham, 84, 96, .533, 8.08

Faceoffs, W, L, Pct.

28 Chris Berrier, 87, 80, .520

21 Matt Bailer, 52, 56, .481

Terps lineup

Attack, G, Sh, A, Pts

1 Andrew Whipple, 22, 62, 39, 61

24 Scott Hochstadt, 46, 108, 18, 64

32 Matt Hahn, 49, 103, 6, 55

First midfield, G, Sh, A, Pts

4 Bill Ruhl, 13, 37, 10, 23

10 Brian Zeller, 19, 73, 13, 32

16 Frank Radin, 15, 54, 13, 28

Second midfield, G, Sh, A, Pts

29 Marcus LaChapelle, 1, 3, 8, 9

35 Bob Hanna, 17, 36, 4, 21

45 Chris Malone, 6, 22, 4, 10

Defensive midfield, Ht, Wt, GB

20 Chris Lamy (LS), 6-2, 211, 30

37 Jeff Shirk, 6-1, 190, 11

31 Erik Osberg, 5-11, 180, 31

or 22 Kevin Pasqualina, 5-10, 186, 38

Close defense, Ht, Wt, GB

27 Mike Bonanni, 6-0, 181, 17

34 Brian Reese, 6-3, 196, 62

18 Casey Connor, 6-2, 180, 40

48 Jason Carrier, 6-2, 189, 12

Goalkeeper, GA, Sv, Pct., GAA

25 Kevin Healy, 128, 204, .614, 8.5

Faceoffs, W, L, Pct.

26 Brian Haggerty, 185, 108, .583

12 Chris Nohe, 49, 30, .612

Team comparison

Princeton ..................... Maryland

14.4 ..... Goals scored ....... 14.4

7.8 ..... Goals allowed ....... 8.7

.349 ... Shooting pct. ........ .359

.313 ... Opp. shooting pct. ... .311

.478 ..... Faceoffs ........... .620

+7.6 ..... Avg. GB margin ..... +16.3

.858 ..... Clearing pct. ...... .662

.765 ... Opp. clearing pct. ... .702

.392 ... Extra-man offense .... .378

.094 ... Man-down defense ..... .321

What they're saying

Virginia coach Dom Starsia, who beat Princeton and lost to Maryland twice in the regular season: "I have a hard time picking against Princeton in this setting. It's truly going to be up to Maryland to seize control and to win this game. Overall, the edge goes to Maryland in a close game."

Cornell coach Dave Pietramala, who lost to Princeton and Maryland in the regular season: "In Maryland, you're talking about the premier team in the country in faceoffs. That's going to be a key."

Navy coach Richie Meade, who lost to Maryland in the regular season: "Maryland is a very strong and powerful team who has a lot of experience now so that the experience factor that Princeton has over the other teams is negated a little bit."

Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan: "One thing about Princeton is that they don't give you anything easy. But Maryland is so big, strong and physical. I think if they can play that physical game and play as well with the ball as in the semis, they'll be tough to beat. Maryland's got to be the favorite."

Lacrosse championship

At Piscataway, N.J.

Today

Maryland vs. Princeton, 10: 55 a.m., ESPN

Seaman's analysis

Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman dissects the position-by-position matchup between Maryland and Princeton. The Blue Jays split with the Terps this season and lost to the Tigers in the season opener: No. 5 Maryland (14-2) vs. No. 2 Princeton (13-1)

Site: Rutgers Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.

Time: 10: 55 a.m. today

TV/Radio: ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM)

Attack: Maryland has the best attack that Princeton is going to have to face this year, whereas I think Maryland has seen some good attacks. I don't think Princeton has anybody off the ball that is as good as Maryland's Matt Hahn. On the ball, the Terps have Jesse Hubbard, Jon Hess and Chris Massey, who are all really good. The huge key to Maryland is you have to shut down Andrew Whipple. Edge: Princeton, very slight.

Midfield: Princeton's Josh Sims is the best midfielder as there is in the country right now. Overall, when comparing the first midfields, it's even. Maryland might be more athletic and deeper. Strategically, it'll be interesting to see if Maryland puts the long pole on either Sims or Lorne Smith. The same goes with Princeton, who must decide to pole Brian Zeller or Frank Radin. Edge: Even.

Defense: You want to shut off Whipple, but I'm afraid Princeton might have lost that defender in Christian Cook, who tore his ACL in the fourth quarter against Syracuse. I think all of a sudden, a team whose defense was built around one player has lost that player. I think Cook going down makes defending Maryland much tougher. Maryland is playing well defensively and looked real good against Loyola. But the Terps will be playing an attack that's a much different attack than they played in Loyola. Edge: Maryland.

Goalkeepers: I think when Kevin Healy plays well, he's very, very good and better than most of the other goalies in the tournament. I think if he's on like he was against Loyola, Maryland has a sizable edge in this area. This is the biggest question mark for Princeton on defense. Edge: Maryland by a large margin.

Faceoffs: I've always said you never know about faceoffs until the two players face off against each other. If you go with $H statistics, Maryland's two faceoff players are tough to beat and Princeton has been about .500. Edge: Maryland.

Overall: If Kevin Healy plays well, Maryland is a one-goal favorite.

Pub Date: 5/25/98

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