Tag Archives: Sports Illustrated

Lacrosse In The 1980’s: Johns Hopkins Men’s Lacrosse Defeated Syracuse 11-4 To Win 1985 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship (Sports Illustrated June 03, 1985)


Johns Hopkins routed Syracuse in a rematch of the last two title games

With 4:10 remaining in the first quarter of the NCAA lacrosse championship last week in Providence, Johns Hopkins coach Don Zimmerman called a time-out. His top-ranked team trailed Syracuse 3-0 and, worse, was getting outhustled, outshot and outsmarted. At that very moment most of the 15,000 fans at Brown Stadium had to be thinking that venerable Hopkins—winner of five official and 35 unofficial national titles—was in for an Orange crush. Syracuse, after all, had averaged 15.5 goals per game during the season and had Tim Nelson, the leading career scorer in the history of college lacrosse, on its side.

But Zimmerman wasn’t about to panic. The week before, the Blue Jays had overcome a 5-0 deficit against Virginia in the semifinals. What fiery words did the coach spout at his players? None. He just told them to relax and be patient. ” Syracuse got a couple of those goals on the transition,” Zimmerman said later, “but I wasn’t concerned. We knew Syracuse would pressure our offense on the perimeter, so I told the guys to go to the goal, and they did.”

And how. Hopkins responded by ripping off 10 unanswered goals en route to an

Larry Quinn was a high school All-American at Levittown (N.Y.) Memorial, he twice won the Enners Award as the nation's top player while leading Hopkins to national championships in 1984 and '85. Both years he was the NCAA Tournament MVP, a First Team All-American and the Kelly Award winner as the top goaltender in the nation. He was the South captain in the 1985 North/South All-Star Game.

11-4 triumph. The Orange didn’t get their fourth goal until the final minute of the third quarter. Sparking the Jays’ rally were Del Dressel, who had two of their first four goals and finished with a hat trick, and Gary Matthews, who won 12 of 18 face-offs. However, the real Hopkins heroes were goalie Larry Quinn, the defensemen and the midfielders who shut down the Syracuse attack. Despite their ferocious start, the Orange turned out to be lemons. Their four-goal output was the lowest in the 15-year history of the championship game, and the team’s lowest since 1979.

Although Nelson assisted on three of the Orange’s four goals, he was kept well in check by the Blue Jays. As a crease attackman, Nelson likes to set up Wayne Gretzky-like behind the net and feed teammates breaking toward the goal. Trouble was, time and again his teammates couldn’t shake the tight-checking Hopkins defenders, which meant that Nelson was left with the option of taking a low-percentage shot or forcing a low-percentage pass. Speaking about the Jays’ defense, Brad Kotz, Syracuse‘s two-time All-America, said, “We were worried a lot about what they were going to do and didn’t concentrate on playing our own game.” Indeed, Quinn had to make only 13 saves all afternoon.

Several of those shots came from point-blank range, but Quinn, the Division I Player of the Year last season, held his ground. “In my craziest dream I shut them out,” said Quinn afterward. “Going into the game I did not project how many goals I would give up, but I was hoping to hold them to seven.”

In retrospect, if any team was going to shut down Syracuse, it was the Blue Jays. In the last two years, Syracuse has lost just three of 32 games, all of them to Hopkins: 13-10 in the 1984 championship, 8-6 early this season and, of course, the ’85 title game. The Orange had defeated the Jays 17-16 for the 1983 championship by coming from seven goals behind in one of the most thrilling college games ever. Hence, for a lot of lacrosse followers, Saturday’s rematch was an eagerly awaited rubber game. “They’re talking revenge,” said Zimmerman on Friday, “but we’re talking pride in retaining the title.”

Unfortunately, for the first time since these two schools became the sport’s dominant teams, the game failed to live up to expectations. “There’s no explanation,” said Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr., who was a midfielder on the Orange’s 1957 team, which went undefeated and included Jim Brown. “We played our worst game of the year, and they played their best game of the year.”

But not until there was 4:10 to go in that first quarter.

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Lacrosse In The 1980’s: North Carolina Men’s Lacrosse Defeated Three-Time Defending Champion Johns Hopkins 14-13 To Win 1981 NCAA Lacrosse National Championship (Sports Illustrated June 08, 1981)


For years lacrosse has been ruled by an exclusive club, then North Carolina upset mighty Johns Hopkins to swell the membership.

North Carolina lacrosse Coach Willie Scroggs called for the locker room door to be closed moments before his team was to take the field last Saturday in Princeton, N.J. for the NCAA championship game against Johns Hopkins—fabled Johns Hopkins, No. 1-ranked Johns Hopkins, undefeated Johns Hopkins, three-in-a-row national champs Johns Hopkins. With steely eyes, Scroggs told his players, “Look, it isn’t a fluke we got here. And we’re not going to worry about who they are. All we want to do is concern ourselves with who we are. O.K., boys, let’s saddle up and get ’em.”

They did.

The result was a stunning 14-13 upset of Hopkins—against whom excellence in college lacrosse generally has been measured since 1891. It was also a signal that the clubby world of lacrosse, where over the past couple of decades Hopkins, Maryland, Navy and Cornell have been the elite, now must welcome a new member to its upper stratum.

Before a sun-drenched crowd of 22,100, a record for this event, the two schools put on a magnificent contest that led Scroggs to say, “This game proves you don’t need to understand lacrosse to enjoy it.” But for those who did understand, the spectacle was unmatched. Much of the stickhandling was peerless; the effort

Johns Hopkins Men's Lacrosse attacker Jeff Cook scored 128 goals and added 91 assists during his career at Johns Hopkins.

was total; the incredible play of Hopkins Attackman Jeff Cook, who scored six goals, demonstrated he is the best lacrosse player in the country; and the goal-tending of North Carolina‘s gambling and rambling Tom Sears was superb.

That the Tar Heels, 11-0 going into the title game, have emerged as a lacrosse power is no surprise. Scroggs played at Hopkins in the ’60s and later was an assistant coach there. Two of his assistants also played there. And all of them recruit in the Blue Jays’ favorite areas—Baltimore and Long Island—luring prospects to Chapel Hill with tales of great weather and fun times, most of which are true. Losing Coach Henry Ciccarone said of Scroggs, “I guess it took a Hopkins guy to come back and beat us.”

But it also took some mighty good luck—which brings us to Michael Burnett, the Tar Heel sophomore attackman. Before the big game, he sat in a motel room searching for the right word to describe himself during his growing-up years. He mumbled and shook his head until his inquisitor suggested: rotten.

“Yeah,” said Burnett, “rotten. That’s perfect. That was me. Rotten.” He was raised in Arnold, Md., in a house hard by a cove of the Severn River. “I looked around as a kid and saw everybody was playing lacrosse,” he recalled. Of course, he also looked around and saw everybody was going to school, but that was not so appealing. During his high school years, Burnett preferred swinging on a rope over the river and going to rowdy beach parties. Worse, one of his buddies drove a boat to school, and at the merest hint of a nice day the two would cut class at their now-defunct private school, Wroxeteron-Severn. It was just the boys, the water and a case of Olympia. The headmaster was not amused and gave Burnett the option of transferring or being expelled. Burnett transferred, to St. Mary’s in Annapolis. Burnett was a fine lacrosse player at both schools, but when it came time for colleges to consider him, “My grades scared most everybody off.”

Scroggs knew about Burnett—Scroggs knows about everybody—and decided to give him a chance. Predictably, when Burnett wandered into Chapel Hill in 1979, he got involved in listening to a friend’s stereo, playing darts, missing classes and hanging around fraternity houses “because that’s where the free beer is.” He had grade trouble by May of last year. But summer school brightened him up sufficiently to enable him to play lacrosse in 1981, and suddenly Burnett became a team leader. He credits the steadying influence of a new girl friend. Tiffany Terranova. O.K., so he still flunked French this year. “The difference is he cares that he flunked,” says Scroggs. “That’s progress. Look, I’m not into saving souls. But if a player wants to try and do what I say, I’m willing to give him a chance.” So Burnett led the Tar Heels in goals with 26 and assists with 31 to the utter amazement of everybody. Without Burnett—the new Burnett—North Carolina almost certainly wouldn’t be the NCAA champion. “I could have done better before and I should have done better, but I didn’t,” says Burnett.

When play began last Saturday, it quickly became obvious that the Tar Heels were going to have to do a lot better as they fell behind 2-0 in the first seven minutes. They passed shakily, played defense poorly and seemed, just as the smart money had predicted, thoroughly intimidated by Hopkins. Twice in the first half North Carolina trailed by three. If Burnett hadn’t gunned home two second-quarter goals, a Hopkins rout might have been on. At the half, the Tar Heels were behind only 8-7, but this was the first time all year that they had trailed at the intermission.

Still, the typically calm Scroggs—”I like the idea that if I’m in a room, you may not even know I’m there”—insisted to his outplayed troops that “we’re just a step away from causing them a bunch of problems. Look their goalie in the eye and shoot the ball at his knees. O.K., boys, let’s saddle up and go get ’em.”

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Lacrosse In The 1970’s: Cornell Men’s Lacrosse Defeated Maryland 16-13 In Overtime Thriller To Win 1976 NCAA Lacrosse National Championship (Sports Illustrated June 07, 1976)


Cornell came from far behind to win a thriller of an NCAA final.

On the eve of Saturday’s NCAA lacrosse championship at Brown University, Cliff Stevenson, the host school’s lacrosse coach, sat in the stands in Brown Stadium watching the undefeated finalists, Maryland and Cornell, work out. Less than two weeks before, Stevenson’s squad had played them back to back. “This could be the greatest lacrosse game of all time,” he said. “I’ve been coaching 26 years and these are the two best teams I’ve ever seen.”

Stevenson was right on the button. For dramatics this year’s championship was unsurpassed. Before a noisy crowd of 11,954 the game boiled to a 12-12 tie and went into overtime, with Cornell playing under protest. The disputed play had allowed Maryland to draw even with only one second remaining in regulation time, but ultimately the protest was academic. Outhustling and outchecking the Terps, Cornell pulled away to a 16-13 win, adding a second NCAA crown to the one it had captured in the tournament’s first year.

The tournament was started in 1971 to help promote the game, and over the years it has produced enough upsets, controversies, records and, yes, money to make it a success. This year, for the first time, the tournament drew national TV exposure. ABC‘s Wide World of Sports was there in Providence, proof positive for aficionados, who can be a little tiresome on the subject of the growth of lacrosse. In truth, the sport’s stature was better summed up by a short conversation that took place between two ABC technicians immediately after they had been briefed on some fundamentals of the game—four quarters, goals count one point, play starts with something called a faceoff, which takes place at midfield.

“Is this the first time lacrosse has been on national television?” asked one.

“Yep,” answered the second. “We could make or break the sport.” If lacrosse fails to survive ABC‘s treatment of it, it can at least claim to have exited on a glorious note. This was the first time in tournament history that the championship game matched undefeated teams. More important, the finalists had reached their appointment with destiny, or at least with the American Broadcasting Company, by trampling all over their tournament opponents. Maryland had scored in the first 14 seconds of its opener with Brown and built up a 9-0 lead on the way to an easy 17-8 win. But almost before the Terrapins could finish flexing their muscles, word arrived from Cornell that the Big Red had demolished its opening-round foe, Washington and Lee, 14-0. In lacrosse, shutouts occur about as often as visitations from ABC.

Maryland went right back to work proving that it deserved to be the No. 1 seed by rolling up an 11-1 lead over fourth-ranked Navy and then coasting to a 22-11 win. The 22 goals were a tournament record. Then news came from Cornell that the Big Red had built up its own 11-1 lead, over third-ranked Johns Hopkins, before winning 13-5.

Nor had the regular season offered much of a challenge for either team. Cornell’s average margin of victory was 11 goals, Maryland‘s was nine. True, the Terps had been taken into overtime by Atlantic Coast Conference opponents North Carolina and Virginia, but in those overtime periods Maryland had outshot them 26-0. Against Virginia, the Terrapins poured in nine goals in less than five minutes.

Maryland was so explosive offensively this year that 37 times it scored within 25 seconds after a faceoff. Cornell players referred to the Terrapins‘ extra-man offense as the “Guns of Navarone.” The Terps’ coach, Bud Beardmore, was a high-scoring midfielder at Maryland and he had built his offense there around a midfield starring a cast of thousands. In lacrosse, midfielders play for short periods of time and frequently change on the fly the way lines do in ice hockey. Depth is crucial, and Maryland was so well manned that Roger Tuck, a Terrapin All-America midfielder, was serious when he said, “A really big part of our game plan is simply to run the opposing midfield into the ground.”

So deep was Maryland, in fact, that although it was the highest scoring team in the nation, none of its players finished in the top 12 in goals, assists or points. In all, 25 different Terps scored this season, 16 of them midfielders.

Despite incessant talk about the quality of Maryland‘s depth, no one lumped Frank Urso with the rest of the midfield. Last Saturday was Urso‘s final game, and he is likely to be remembered as the best collegiate player ever. In his career at Maryland he led the Terps to the NCAA finals in all four years and made first-team All-America every season. His overtime goal won the 1973 NCAA title for Maryland, and his record-tying five goals in last year’s championship game gave the Terps their second NCAA title. As a sophomore he was named Midfielder of the Year. As a junior he was named Player of the Year. As a senior he was so good no one could think of a description worthy of the man.

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Lacrosse In The 1970’s: Maryland Men’s Lacrosse Defeated Navy 20-13 To Win 1975 NCAA National Lacrosse Championship (Sports Illustrated June 9, 1975)


Despite bad starts, Maryland and Navy Lacrosse ended up in the NCAA finals

Supposedly, NCAA tournaments are played to determine which team is the best in the nation, but often they merely confirm the preeminence of a school that clearly had established its superiority during the regular season. Only when rankings have been hopelessly jumbled by upsets and erratic performances does a season-ending tournament serve to unscramble things once and for all. That was the case in lacrosse this year, and last week in Baltimore the University of Maryland, which almost did not qualify for the championships, resoundingly clarified which was the best team in 1975 by defeating an equally surprising Navy squad 20-13.

As always, the tournament succeeded in promoting lacrosse. The crowd at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field was a standing-room-only 10,400. Yet the championships are not overwhelmingly popular with the lacrosse community, which complains that too much of the money the event generates goes to the NCAA, not to the sport.

The 1975 Maryland Men's Lacrosse Team

Furthermore, the tournament makes a shambles of year-end scheduling. Consider this season’s finalists. Maryland‘s commencement was held on May 11. The school’s lacrosse players, who otherwise would have started their summer vacations, had to hang around for three weeks for their season to end. At the Naval Academy, players took exams on the morning before their opening tournament game with Pennsylvania, then could not celebrate their 17-6 victory because they had more exams that evening. The Middies’ tests did not end until the day they traveled to Cornell for their 15-12 semifinal upset of the No. 2-ranked Big Red. What’s more, the exigencies of Navy’s athletic budget require that the annual clash with Army be scheduled for the Academy’s June Week, when it will draw a big crowd. That meant that Navy had to play the Cadets the day after the national championship.

Nor does the concept of a national tournament seem to have all that much relevance in lacrosse. In the five years the championships have been played, eight of the 10 finalists have come from Maryland. The University of Maryland has appeared in four of the five finals, and the Midshipmen and the Terps are the only two teams that have been selected for all five tournaments.

Maryland and Navy are also the best examples of how confused the lacrosse picture was this year. The Terps did not even win the Atlantic Coast Conference. The University of Virginia did. For what he calls “the good of the game,” Terp Coach Bud Beardmore schedules a number of non- NCAA games. As a result, Maryland played only six NCAA games, the minimum number required to qualify for the tournament. The Terps lost two of them, including one to Navy. On the other hand, the Middies had perhaps the roughest schedule in college lacrosse this season. They played every team that appeared in the 1974 and 1975 championship tournaments. The Middies not only lost two of those games but managed to blow two others against lesser opponents, including their season opener to an unheralded small-college team, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Coaching at the Academy has always been an uphill battle for Dick Szlasa, who has directed Navy’s lacrosse program for the past three years. As if the recruiting problems of a service academy were not burden enough, Szlasa had to succeed the legendary Bill Bilderback. In 14 seasons at Navy, Bilderback won nine national championships, including an incredible string of eight in a row from 1960 to 1967 when the title was decided by a vote.

Szlasa managed to get the Middies into the NCAA tournament in each of his first two seasons, but both times they were eliminated in the first round. With 16 of 31 lettermen gone, prospects for 1975 appeared to be bleak. When Navy lost to UMBC in the mud to open the season, it marked the lowest point of his career. “We jumped on the bus after the game and the weight of the players caused it to mire in the mud,” Szlasa says, possibly passing the buck, since he tips the scales at about 250. “It took two hours to get unstuck. That whole scene really brought us to grips with reality.”

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Lacrosse In The 1970’s: Johns Hopkins Men’s Lacrosse Defeated Maryland 17-12 To Win The 1974 NCAA National Championship For Retiring Head Coach Bob Scott (Sports Illustrated June 10, 1974)


Johns Hopkins won't beat you at most games. But lacrosse is the one they're sure they own, and with that spirit they went out to regain supremacy

Until four years ago the national lacrosse champion was chosen by a simple vote of the coaches. Under that system Johns Hopkins—a Baltimore institution with an enrollment of 2,000 and a medical school with an imposing reputation—had established, by its own modest admission, a lacrosse dominance “akin to that enjoyed by UCLA in basketball, Notre Dame in football and Indiana in swimming.” Hopkins did not just play lacrosse; it was lacrosse.

But in 1971 the NCAA came up with an eight-team elimination tournament to determine who was No. 1, and it was bye-bye Blue Jays. First Cornell, then Virginia, and then longtime rival Maryland won the title. Hopkins came close but never quite made it.

Prospects in Baltimore looked only so-so this year, too, as the Blue Jays dropped their opener to Virginia and later another game to Navy. Still, they qualified for the tournament, and there Washington and Lee almost bounced them out in the semifinals. The Blue Jays had to rally from 10-7 in the fourth quarter to beat the Generals 11-10. Finally, last Saturday, before 11,500 fans and one streaker in Rutgers University Stadium, the whole lacrosse picture fell back into what Hopkins considers proper perspective. With a lot of hustle and scrap, some sharp shooting and a few psychological advantages, Johns Hopkins finally brought the NCAA lacrosse championship home by thrashing the University of Maryland 17-12.

Johns Hopkins Lacrosse Coach Bob Scott coached seven National Championship Teams, winning those honors in 1957, 1959, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1974. Perhaps the 1974 title was the most cherished since it came in the year of his retirement.

No one relished the victory more than Bob Scott, Hopkins coach for 20 years. Scott had won almost 75% of his games and six national championships in that span and was three times Coach of the Year. He is a quiet operator, preferring the old-club atmosphere of lacrosse to any sort of limelight. “A nice, dedicated, hardworking, intense guy,” said one Baltimore observer of Scott, “but he’ll never say anything controversial.” The only prize missing in Scott‘s list of achievements was a title won under the new tournament system. When he announced this spring that he would retire at the end of the season to devote full time to his duties as athletic director, DO IT FOR SCOTTIE buttons began popping up all over the Hopkins campus. On the night before his players did do it for him, Henry Ciccarone, who will take over the Blue Jays next year, tried to explain Scott‘s accomplishments. Ciccarone was an All-America midfielder at Hopkins in the early ’60s, and this season, in a nice academic touch, he has borne the title of associate lacrosse coach to distinguish him from the four assistant coaches. “Besides being the most knowledgeable lacrosse man around,” he said, “Bob’s success stems from his ability to work with people. He has tremendous feelings for his players. Everyone here is almost like his own son. I think he’s the most respected coach in the game. He’s won titles with teams he shouldn’t have won with.”

Last Saturday, Maryland was favored to repeat as champion even though it had lost to Hopkins in the final game of the season, 17-13, the Terrapins‘ only regular-season defeat in two years. From last season’s powerful team Maryland had lost seven All-Americas. But Bud Beardmore, Maryland‘s coach, insisted before the championship that “this team is just as good as last year’s. You don’t have winning seasons because you have All-Americas. Winning seasons make All-Americas.” And though they performed sluggishly on occasion, the Terps proved often enough that they still had plenty of firepower. At midseason they demolished Virginia, then ranked No. 2, 25-13, after having built up an astonishing halftime lead of 17-6. In this year’s semifinals they tied a tournament record for most goals while obliterating Cornell 19-10.

Beardmore has coached at Maryland five years, but only his last two teams have truly carried his stamp. They have been fastbreaking, aggressive and deep with midfielders who can run opponents into the ground and score like attackmen. The best of these is sophomore Frank Urso, who last year became the first freshman in 25 years to gain first team All-America honors. “If Urso continues to work,” says Beardmore, “he has the potential, I would think, to be the best lacrosse player ever, although I don’t want to insult oldtimers I never saw.” This year Urso scored 40 goals to break Beardmore‘s own 1962 Maryland midfielder record of 34.

Going into the rematch with Hopkins, Maryland seemed supremely confident. Most of the Terrapins discounted the earlier loss to the Blue Jays because, they said, the game had been meaningless, both teams having already qualified for the tournament. Urso, for one, seemed less upset by that loss than by the fact that Maryland had managed to beat Hopkins by only one goal in the tournament final the year before. “We feel we’re much better than they are,” he said. “We were so much better than a 10-9 game. People who just read the papers think we were two even teams. We don’t like to hear that. We don’t think there’s a team that’s close to us when we play our best. If we play our game like we did against Cornell, we should win by between seven and 10.”

As he had before the wild rout of Cornell, Beardmore gave his team their freedom from Saturday until Wednesday. “I think they would rather be at the beach anyhow,” he said publicly. Privately, he had some reservations. “They’ve had too much lacrosse,” he said. “I don’t want to belittle the NCAA, but the tournament goes on too long. The boys are losing $500 to $600 to play in this, because they can’t get summer jobs.” ( Urso, for example, had his last exam at the end of April and had to wait a month to play his last game of lacrosse.) But Beardmore pooh-poohed the idea of having to get his team mentally ready. “If you have to get your men up for a championship, you don’t have the right type of men,” he said. Nevertheless, he carefully placed the 1973 NCAA trophy out in the middle of the locker room in College Park, where he could be sure no one would miss it.

Over in Baltimore there was no trophy, but no shortage of motivation, either. Lacrosse takes a back seat to nothing at Hopkins. The team’s high scorer, Attackman Jack Thomas, also quarterbacks the school’s football team, and this year ranked 10th in total yardage in NCAA Division III. But his friends claim Thomas plays football mainly to stay in shape for lacrosse. At Hopkins the lacrosse players are the campus jocks. All week Coach Scott kept insisting, “This game has no special significance. I’m not all fired up to win just because it’s my last game coaching.” But Thomas saw things differently. “You can see he wants it a little bit more than all the rest,” he said. ” Mr. Scott would never admit it, but you can see just a little bit more attention on his part.” ” Mr. Scott” is the way Hopkins players refer to their coach.

The low mark of Scott‘s coaching career came in 1971, the first year of the tournament, when Hopkins finished 3-7. But that year’s freshmen won all 16 of their games. As sophomores they reached the NCAA finals only to be upset by Virginia 13-12. As juniors they reached the finals again, and again lost by one goal, this time in double overtime, 10-9 to Maryland. The 11 seniors who remained needed no encouragement to stay around campus over Memorial Day, practicing. Bill Nolan, a 155-pound midfielder who spent last fall catching Jack Thomas‘s passes, said, “We’d like to win one for a change of pace.”

Scott thought that to beat Maryland his team would “have to have a real good day in the goal, have our share of face-offs and ground balls to minimize their fast-breaking and,” he added, “a little bit of luck.” Hopkins worked hard in the luck department. Thomas put on the same light-tan summer pants he had worn to games for three years. Defense-man Mike Siegert had his knuckles taped just so. Nolan promised he would wear his practice jersey with the nickname “Gnat” on it, “even though it smells terrible,” and insisted, “I have to put on my left shoe before my right one, or something goes wrong.”

Even Mr. Scott got into the act. He couldn’t help noticing, he said, that when Hopkins lost its two games it was wearing its light-blue jerseys. Maryland, the No. 1 seed, won the toss to be the home team and wear the home-team color, which in lacrosse is white. Alas, that would put Hopkins in light blue again and, what was worse, the Terrapins would not be in the red they wore when they lost to Hopkins. What Scott forgot was that in the NCAA final the home team can choose its color. Late in the week Beardmore chose to wear red. Hopkins would wear white. There was a greater contrast, Beardmore pointed out, between red and white than between white and light blue. Well, imagine that, said Bob Scott.

There must have been some magic in those white jerseys, for as soon as they put them on, the Blue Jays began to act like national champions. True, Maryland grabbed a 2-0 lead but only because its freshman goalie, Jake Reed, was able to stop several point-blank shots by the Blue Jays. Then, midway through the first quarter the Terrapins drew two penalties. Hopkins scored twice on extra-man goals and took control of the game. By the middle of the second quarter a throttling defense, excellent clearing by freshman Goalie Kevin Mahon, and crisp passing had opened a 9-3 lead for the Blue Jays. It was 10-4 at the half, and by late in the third quarter Hopkins was up 14-6, the largest margin ever in an NCAA final.

Lacrosse games are won and lost in the 40 yards in the middle of the field, in the area between the two restraining lines. The face-offs, which start play at the beginning of each quarter and after each goal, take place right at midfield and here, as in their previous game, Hopkins’ strategy was to neutralize Maryland‘s supposedly invincible Doug Radebaugh by having its face-off man, freshman Bob Maimone, clamp the ball to the ground and wait for help from his midfielders on the wings. More important, the area between the restraining lines is the scene of most struggles for ground balls, the loose balls of lacrosse. Coming up with them is as much a matter of desire as skill. “Ground balls are the mental aspect of the game,” Beardmore had said at midweek. On Saturday he must have been having second thoughts about how much psyching his team needed. Hopkins out-hustled, outran and outscrapped the Terrapins so badly that in the second quarter the Blue Jays managed to get off 22 shots to Maryland‘s seven, though the Terrapins had been outshot in only one game all season. Furthermore, Hopkins was shooting more accurately: 27 of Hopkins’ 33 shots were on goal, compared to only nine of Maryland‘s 22.

Late in the third quarter Maryland finally made a run at the game. Two goals by Attackman Ed Mullen closed the gap to 14-8, and when Hopkins’ Franz Wittelsberger was penalized for decking Roger Tuck in the last minute of the quarter, the Terrapins seemed ready to take over. Urso quickly scored an unassisted goal, his third, in the extra-man situation and fed Dave Dempsey for another to start the last quarter. When Maryland‘s Kevin Boland scored unassisted 40 seconds later, the Jays led by only 14-11. The Terrapins had scored five times in less than five minutes. But there the threat ended. “A thing like what happened to Tuck always gives a little bit of adrenaline to your players,” said Beardmore later. “But if you’re not playing well, it only goes so far.”

Less than 90 seconds after Boland’s goal, Hopkins Midfielder Rick Kowalchuk, who had sparked the Blue Jays’ come-from-behind rally against W & L, lazily circled the Terrapins‘ goal, hoping to draw a double team which would free a teammate. When he looked over his shoulder, he discovered he wasn’t even drawing a very good single team. So he drove in and scored his third goal. Just over a minute after that he passed to Wittelsberger, who scored the fourth of his five goals, and it was all over for Maryland. Hopkins fans drowned out most of the rest of the action chanting, “We’re No. 1.” They also sang “Amen,” presumably to mock Maryland fans who sing it in victory. Then again, perhaps it was to signify that lacrosse is indeed a religion at Johns Hopkins.

Afterward, Jack Thomas, who had scored three goals that afternoon, lounged on the grass, luxuriating in the outcome of his final college game. “Everybody knew Mr. Scott wanted it pretty bad,” he said. “He’s a heckuva guy to play for. We knew we were the hope after our freshman year but we never came through, not until this last one. And that makes it a little bit sweeter.”

Moments later Bob Scott closed the door to a jubilant dressing room. For a while there was silence, then a burst of cheering. When the door opened again Scott stood in the middle of the room dripping wet from an impromptu shower. Mike Siegert, one of the seniors, was smiling. “You know what he said?” Siegert asked. “From now on we can call him Scottie.”

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Lacrosse In The 1970’s: Hobart Men’s Lacrosse Captured The 1972 USILA National Championship For Small Colleges And Highlighted The Emergence Of Central New York Lacrosse Programs (Sports Illustrated April 22 1974)


Foregoing traditional finesse in favor of the fast break and volume shooting, tiny Hobart is swamping opponents under a torrent of goals

The idea of Hobart College (enrollment 1,000) beating Syracuse University in anything other than Scrabble would appear to be ludicrous. Why, Hobart‘s very nickname, the Statesmen, suggests as much. The aims of the college, to quote its catalog, are simply “to civilize…to humanize…to liberate intellectually.” Well, last week on tiny Boswell Field, Hobart‘s lacrosse team civilized, humanized and intellectually liberated the Orangemen of Syracuse by the incredible score of 23-1.

Not that Hobart is a newcomer to the game of lacrosse. The college has been playing the sport since 1898 and prior to this season had won over 58% of its games. In 1972 the Statesmen won the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association tournament, the first national championship held for small colleges. This year they are 3-0, including a 28-3 rout of Clarkson that broke the Hobart scoring record, and are once again a strong contender for the title.

Hobart‘s eminence in lacrosse is further proof that the Finger Lakes region of central New York state is beginning to rank with Baltimore and Long Island as a hotbed of the sport. In 1971 Cornell, which is, of course, high above Cayuga’s waters, won the NCAA lacrosse title. Close by, on Seneca Lake in Geneva, N.Y., Hobart was, as noted, the small-college champion the next year while nearby Cortland State won the same title last year. Now recruiters from the even more traditional Southern powers are beginning to scout the area’s high schools for talent.

For 37 seasons the lacrosse coach at Hobart was a legendary gentleman named Francis L. (Babe) Kraus, who won 208 games and is now in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He was succeeded in 1967 by Buddy Beardmore, who stayed only one year before moving on to Virginia and then to Maryland, where last year he coached the Terrapins to the NCAA championship. Beardmore in turn was followed by the current coach, Jerry Schmidt, who seems determined to outdo both his predecessors. In seven years Schmidt‘s teams have won 75% of their games and have yet to lose in their league, the Independent College Athletic Conference.

Hobart‘s frenetic style of play, on the other hand, might best be compared to that of a fast-breaking basketball team. It is built around creating unsettled situations—anything less than the standard six-on-six—for Statesmen’s offense.

The 1972 Hobart Men's Lacrosse Team was 17-1-0 and won the USILA National Championship and featured five All-Americans in Dave Creighton ’72, Bob Raleigh ’73, Rick Gilbert ’74, Greg Hughan ’72, and Tom Gaggin ’72, and produced five current Hobart Hall of Fame members: Don Aleksiewicz ’73, B.J. O’Hara ’75, Creighton, Gilbert, and Raleigh. Together, the team recorded a +9.89 scoring margin and registered 17 wins, the most in the history of the program.

Schmidt was an All-America attackman at Johns Hopkins University in the early ’60s (SI cover, April 23, 1962), and at Hobart he has fostered a style of play that makes Baltimore traditionalists look askance. Lacrosse is generally divided into Northern and Southern styles of play, although the differences are rapidly merging. Southern lacrosse, epitomized by the play at Hopkins, emphasizes polished stickwork, maneuvering for the percentage shot and conservative defense in which the defenseman primarily concerns himself with maintaining position between his opponent and the goal. The Northern brand of the game lacks the finesse of the Southern but makes up for it in aggressiveness and contact, with a lot of body checking similar to that in hockey. Without sacrificing stickwork Hobart has carried aggressiveness and contact to new extremes.

Lacrosse teams are composed of three attackmen, three midfielders, three defensemen and a goalie. Attackmen almost always stay at their opponents’ end of the field while the defensemen and the goalie remain at their end. Normally a game consists of three attackmen and three midfielders maneuvering the ball for a score against three midfielders, three defensemen and the goalie. This is known as a settled situation.

To accomplish his aims Schmidt has introduced a pressing, double-teaming defense designed to steal the ball. In a Johns Hopkins-Virginia game two years ago Hopkins Attackman Jack Thomas stood near the corner with the ball for five minutes and the Cavaliers politely let him be. At Hobart, players would have been after him like Doberman pinschers sicced on a burglar. Instead of merely trying to stay between their opponent and the goal, Hobart defensemen constantly harass the opponent, double-teaming to get at the ball whenever possible. If it were as easy to pass a lacrosse ball under pressure from one stick to another as it is to diagram plays on paper, a double team would be an easy situation to beat, and in fact some of the goals scored off Hobart look embarrassingly easy. As Schmidt concedes, “Basketball teams that press get a lot of layups scored against them.” But more often than not Hobart ends up with the ball in an unsettled situation. And then what Schmidt calls his “well-legged kids” take off.

Unless they have a man advantage, as in a four-on-three, most teams slow the ball down and wait for their six-man offense to set up. Not so with Hobart, where Schmidt urges his team to rush the net. “We made a rule,” he says. “If a guy takes a shot, we never criticize him. We never say ‘bad shot.’ It’s easier to score in a three-on-three than in a six-on-six because there are fewer sticks to knock the ball down, there are fewer backup defenders if you get by your man and you can see an open man more clearly.” Schmidt also sees a distinct psychological advantage. “If you’re going to catch your breath in sports,” he points out, “you should do it on offense. Most players tend to do it on defense because they want to score. Hobart takes advantage of tired midfielders.”

Pity the opposing goaltender. Last year the Statesmen took 917 shots to their opponents’ 550. In the three games this year they have already outgunned opponents 178-69. Schmidt will admit that they were not all great shots but “what you lose in quality, you make up in volume.” This is particularly true in lacrosse because the ball can sometimes take awfully crazy bounces off the chewed up turf in front of the goal. Furthermore there is always the chance to knock in a rebound against a shell-shocked goaltender.

Understandably, attackmen gravitate to Hobart. “An attackman would want to come here just like a split end would want to go to a school that throws the ball a lot,” says Schmidt. “He knows he’s going to be a good goal scorer here.” Schmidt was a big goal scorer at Hopkins. In his senior year he scored 36 times to finish fourth in the nation. Two years ago his three starting attackmen each had 47 goals.

One of those attackmen, Rick Gilbert, then a sophomore, added 75 assists to total 122 points. Lacrosse records are surprisingly vague but Gilbert’s is probably the highest point total ever. Last year he added 114 more points while setting a single-season assist record of 88 feeds. Research at Hobart has turned up only one other instance of a 100-point season in all the history of collegiate lacrosse. With the 91 points he scored as a freshman, Gilbert is a cinch to pass the 400 mark for his career. In three games this season he has already rammed home 13 goals and had 17 assists to push his career total to 357 points.

At 5’8″, 160 pounds, with long, stringy hair and glasses, Gilbert hardly resembles the stereotype All-America. A political-science major who hopes to teach elementary school in Baltimore, he seems even less concerned than his coach about the professional contract he will never sign. “Athletics shouldn’t be utilized to make money,” Gilbert says. “They don’t have that much value in society.”

Schmidt‘s “well-legged kids” almost failed to get off to a good start this spring. In the first quarter of the opening game against Adelphi, the Statesmen played poorly and fell behind 5-2. Then Gilbert literally took matters into his own hands. In a stretch of just 84 seconds early in the second quarter he scored three unassisted goals to tie the game. At that point Schmidt rested his star, substituting a freshman, John Hayes. Hayes promptly raced down the field and on his very first shot as a collegian rifled home a goal to put his team ahead. For Hobart opponents there is no rest. These Statesmen never heard of a ceasefire.

For more:  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1088481/index.htm

Lacrosse In The 1970’s: Virginia Men’s Lacrosse Shared The 1970 National Lacrosse Championship With Johns Hopkins And Navy In Final Year Of “Non-Playoff” Format (Sports Illustrated May 25, 1970)


Since the first NCAA championship playoff in lacrosse will not occur until next year, the Cavaliers can only share the national title this season with Johns Hopkins and Army or Navy, each of whom has one loss.

Tradition, staunchly underpinned by the spirit and architecture set down 145 years ago by Thomas Jefferson and thickly padded with a peculiar Jeffersonian nomenclature, weighs heavily at the University of Virginia. Everyone from the president to the low man in the freshman class is addressed as mister, a reflection of the egalitarian tone Jefferson sought to infuse in the “academical village” he founded and designed. According to Jefferson and generations of Virginia students, the main quadrangle is not a quadrangle but the Lawn; the campus is the Grounds; living quarters are “ranges” and “pavilions.” Ironically, though Jefferson was possibly the most influential radical thinker in American history, the most pervasive of all the traditions that have flourished under the massive Corinthian columns and the lofty dome of the Rotunda, which Jefferson planned as Virginia‘s main building, has been the school’s essential conservatism.

A more recent trend at Virginia has been the school’s decline in athletics. After years of glory in sports as diverse as boxing and football the Cavaliers settled into a 20-year slump. The football team has played one winning season since 1952. The basketball team has had 16 straight losing seasons.

Last week a number of Virginia traditions were under attack. Construction crews worked on new buildings devoid of colonnades. The suddenly unconservative students were on strike in protest against the Cambodian invasion and the shooting at Kent State. The lacrosse team was headed for the school’s first national title since 1952. And, unlike the situation at most colleges where the activists and athletes are rarely the same people, at Virginia the new lacrosse champs were on strike against classes, too.

Since the first NCAA championship playoff in lacrosse will not occur until next year, the Cavaliers can only share the national title this season with Johns Hopkins and Army or Navy, each of whom has one loss. Virginia‘s record became 8-1 when the team beat Washington & Lee 19-3 and Hofstra 14-3 last week. The Cavaliers, who are very likely the best of this spring’s championship trio, can easily wait a year to prove it in a playoff, since the team, beginning with 25-year-old Coach Glenn Thiel, is young and will be around a while. Only four seniors and six juniors are on the 31-man squad, and the two top scorers are Attackmen Jay Connor, a 5’6″ sophomore with a sturdy build and quick stick, and Tommy Duquette, a freshman who already shows signs of developing into the best offensive player in college anywhere. Virginia‘s three best seniors, Defenseman Doug Hilbert and Midfielders Jim Potter and Charles Rullman, are All-America candidates and certainly will not go unmissed. Hilbert allowed his opponents only one goal in his final nine games, and Potter was the first lacrosse player ever selected as best athlete at Virginia. Rullman is so slippery that Maryland set up a special zone defense each time he handled the ball. The Cavaliers still won 9-3.

It was Duquette, however, who provided the surprising play Virginia needed to move up from its fourth-place ranking of a year ago. In the Cavaliers‘ first important win this spring—15-8 over powerful Hopkins—Duquette scored seven of his team-leading 24 goals, a startling showing for a player who was not considered good enough to make a Baltimore schoolboy All-Star team as an attackman last year. Thiel switched Duquette to behind attack this spring and quickly found out how useful his long, gliding strides could be. “Our first game was against Mount Washington, and they put Hank Kaestner on me. He was a three-time All-America at Hopkins,” says Duquette. “I was so afraid of him I just started running around behind the goal to stay away from him, and it worked. I used to just stand around, but I’ve found out that if the defenseman’s worried about keeping up with you, he can’t bother about taking the ball away.”

Duquette now rarely has an opportunity to stand still because of Thiel’s emphasis on physical conditioning. Coaches routinely say that lacrosse games are won by the team that picks up the most ground balls, a frustrating aspect of the game demanding more stamina than skills. In its big victories over Maryland and Hopkins, Thiel’s team fielded 42 more grounders than its opponents. The Cavaliers trailed in this category in only one game, their 11-7 loss to Navy. Virginia is also well coached in technique. It has won 61% of its face-offs, primarily because of Potter’s expertise at center midfield, and has been successful on an outstanding 80% of its clears.

Thiel, whose father coached him at Penn State and who spent the past two seasons coaching a junior college in Baltimore, did not bother to apply for the Virginia job when it became available last spring. “I hesitated until August,” he recalls. “I didn’t think they’d hire some 25-year-old for the job and besides I was teaching in a school where we had a lot of ghetto kids and I had a draft deferment. I was afraid if I came to Virginia I’d lose it.”

A coach who feels threatened by the draft is apt to look on war protesters somewhat differently from his older colleagues. When Thiel’s players asked before the Maryland game to wear red arm bands knotted on their uniform jersey sleeves as a sign of sympathy with the student strike, he permitted it on the basis of individual choice. Eighty percent of the Cavaliers wore them, and a wide majority of the team—along with most of Virginia‘s football players—signed petitions supporting the strike, which by last week had virtually closed down the undergraduate school.

“I was opposed to the arm bands at first,” says Potter. “I thought it would take guys’ minds off the game. But it got clear that so many of them felt so strongly about this that they had to have the right to show it.” The Maryland-Virginia game was played on the Cavaliers‘ home field, which is called The Parking Lot, not from tradition, but because of its hardness. The field was surrounded by police who were bivouacked in the adjacent basketball arena. As the red-arm-banded Cavaliers swept to their victory, it was obvious that several traditions, athletic and political, were in trouble at Virginia.

For more:  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1083652/index.htm