March's Final Four Weekend

March's Final Four Weekend

March's Final Four Weekend

March's Final Four Weekend

Here's what we did.
We took both big games and tried to dissect each one as much as in depth as possible with a little bit if history of the individual schools matchups, how the teams have looked so far this year if they have played yet, how they matchup this year against each other, and then we tried to get a few comments from each coach about their team's game this weekend. We know there are plenty of other games being played out there this weekend, these two games are just too good to pass up and not give extra attention to.

Saturday-March 3, 2001
#4 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays @ #2 Princeton Tigers
1:00 pm @ Class of 1952 Stadium in Princeton, NJ

This will be the first game of the 2001 season for both squads and will mark the 12th consecutive season that these two schools have played their season openers against one another. The fact that these two teams over the years have always opened their seasons with one another is what makes this matchup so exciting. Being two of the stronger programs in D1, both teams always come in highly ranked with season goals of going to the playoffs and vying for a national championship. Being the season opener for both teams also means that there are never any easy walk through games to work the kinks out, so it is always two teams with 0-0 records. No matter what happens out there one really good, highly-ranked lacrosse team is going home with a W and one with a L to open their season.

A few quick notes on the Hopkins/Princeton matchup over the years. Johns Hopkins leads the overall series against Princeton 48-21, but the Tigers got the best of the Blue Jays in their only matchup in 2000 as they beat them 15-11 last March 4 at Homewood Field in Baltimore. These two schools did not face each other in the 2000 NCAA playoffs. Since the two schools started opening their lacrosse seasons with one another 12 years ago, Princeton has gone 9-3 against Hopkins. The final and probably most insignificant note of interest is that the visiting team has won the last three openers, with Princeton looking to break that streak this weekend.

Hopkins is coming off a 2000 season in which they went 9-4 and advanced to the Final Four where they lost to Syracuse 14-12. Last summer was a busy one down in Baltimore as the Blue Jays went through two major offseason changes. Last year's Hopkins head coach John Haus left in order to take the head coaching job at his alma mater UNC, which then lead to the hiring off new Head Coach Dave Pietramala. When we spoke to Coach Pietramala he said that he hasn't even thought about the fact that this will be his first game ever as the head coach of Hopkins. Until I had asked him about it the thought had not even crossed his mind, and he has been too busy preparing for Princeton. Coach Pietramala feels that this game is about Princeton versus Hopkins, and that it has nothing to do about him coaching for the first time as Hopkins new head coach.

Last year Hopkins lost three major players to graduation that had all been a very strong part of Hopkins lacrosse over the past few years. These three All-American losses include goaltender Brian Carcaterra, midfielder AJ Haugen, and attackmen Dan Denihan. This will be the first time in a long while that All-American goalie Brian Carcaterra will not be standing in between the pipes for the Blue Jays when the opening whistle blows, but Coach Pietramala feels that the defense has done a real nice job in their scrimmages. Pietramals believes that if you are ever gonna have a new goalie in there that has not started, then you want them to do so with a solid veteran defensive group in front of them such as theirs. The starting goalie may be a new face for Hopkins, but their defensive core is definitely solid led by All-American close defensemen Brendan Shook and Brandon Testa along with third close defensemen Shawn Nadelen and long-pole midfielder PJ Diconza, these guys would make for an easy adjustment for any new goalie.

The losses of Haugen at midfield and Denihan at attack would hurt any team, but the offense was going to change anyhow with Pietramala as the new head coach. This year's offense will be a lot different with the loss of those two guys, but now a whole lot more people will be involved within the offense. Hopkins will play more of an offense by commitee with everybody getting a lot more touches, rather the just having two main guys that most of the offense worked around. Teams will not be able to focus on just one or two guys and it was most likely that Hopkins was going to change their way of playing offense even with those graduated players.

On playing against Princeton and their defense, Coach Pietramala says that it is not good to try and change your entire offense and defense for each specific game. Instead they add little things within their already established offenses and defense according to who they are playing. With Princeton though, the Hopkins offense will have to be extra concerned about being fully aware along with paying extra attention to recognizing what defense Princeton is in, where the slides are coming from, and if they are sliding at all. Hopkins offense, like any offense facing Princeton, will have their hands full, yet returning All-American midfielder Conor Denihan and midfielder Rob Frattorola along with some experienced sophomore attackmen in Bobby Benson and Adam Doneger should help lead the Hopkins offensive charge. Final face in the crowd to look out for on the Hopkins side is stud faceoff man Eric Wedin. He is a faceoff guy so it is hard to really describe him other then he just dominates the faceoff X, gotta see him in action to fully appreciate how good he is.

Last year's Princeton team went 12-3, and with a huge upset victory over Virginia in the semis they advanced on to the championship game where they lost to Syracuse 13-7. Last year's run to the big dance was a bit of surprise becasue it was made without their starting attackman and bigtime scorer BJ Prager who blew his ACL out on Easter weekend against Cornell. This year's Princeton team could be kind of scary when you look at it on paper. On paper, the Princeton Tigers return their entire starting defense which includes goaltender Trevor Tierney, close defensemen Damien Davis, Scott Farrell, Ryan Mollet, and longpole midfielder Brian Lieberman. Three out of five of those guys will probably be All-Americans this year at their given positions. Other then the one real new face of Ricky Shultz the Tigers have been fortunate to return a full core defense that is already familiar with each other and the defensive schemes of Princeton. Coach Tierney feels that with the new coaching staff at Hopkins they have had to prepare their defense differently and will have to be ready to adjust on Saturday according to what the Blue Jays bring. The return of the defense intact is kind of slighted by the unfamiliar aspect of the new coaches down at Hopkins.

On attack the Tigers also return a good amount of players that have played significant minutes for them over the years along with the addition of a few freshmen whom we may or may not get a chance to see this Saturday depending on certain situations. The two biggest questions concering the Princeton offense is the health and reemergence of BJ Prager and the loss of All-American midfielder Josh Sims. Coach Tierney says that Prager is back a 100% and that his knee looked fine throughout their scrimmages and preseason, which is a plus for the Tiger offense.

Obvioulsy, any team would miss an All-Everything midfielder like Josh Sims, it is how you go about replacing him that is the big task. Coach Tierney says that you don't just replace a player like Sims, but what they have tried to do to fill the hole(or the crater as Tierney would put it) is to replace him through depth by running a large number of different midfielders. The Tigers have a good amount of offensive talent and when asked about a possible logjam at attack Coach Tierney says that they only have two true attackmen, BJ Prager and Matt Striebel. What it appears that the Tigers are going to do is run a lot of guys in and out throughout the attack and mostly midfield depending on certain game time situations. Having too much talent is a much better problem then not having any, and I have a feeling that Coach Tierney and his staff will find more then enough ways to get by. Guys to look for on the offensive side of the field for the Tigers besides Prager and Striebel are Sean Hartofilis, Owen Daly, Dan Clark, Brendan Tierney, Josh White, and Rob Torti along with potentially seeing anyone of these highly touted freshmen Ryan Boyle, Jason Doneger, and Drew Casino.

#3 Virginia Cavaliers @ #1 Syracuse Orangemen
2:30 pm @ Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY

The second big game of this weekend is being played upstate in Syracuse's Carrier Dome directly after the two schools women teams battle each other on the turf. This weekend we will get to see what was supposed to be the ideal matchup for last year's 2000 National Championship game. All last season the general consensus was that Syracuse and Virginia were two teams playing head and shoulders above the rest of the D1 teams. Princton pulled off a pretty amazing victory over UVa in last year's semifinals to prevent the much anticipated clash between these two and this weekend is what we are left with.

Although this is not the season opener for either of these two teams as both played last weekend, it is definitely one of the biggest matchups of the year. This game has become a classic early season battle over the past few years which true orange 'n' blue Virginia and Syracuse fans circle on their calanders every March. The first ever UVa/'Cuse matchup was in 1938 with the teams only have played three times between then and 1994. Since 1994 these two teams have met each other at least once every season, and from 1995 on have met each other in this early season battle every year. In this game last year the Orangemen went down to Charlottesville and pulled off a 13-12 overtime victory. Virginia's most recent win over Syracuse was in the 1999 National Championship game. When these two squads meet up on Saturday they will be bringing together the last two teams to have most recently won national championships. When these two teams clash they always bring together a ton of offense, as both programs are very well-known for their extremely potent offensive attacks and ability to score a ton of goals in transition, settled situations, and man-ups.

The orange and navy blue of Virginia are notorious for their extremely quick, high powered offense and this year will be no different. Last week UVa kicked their season off with a 12-8 win over the then #20-ranked Towson Tigers. Coach Starsis said that they took some good and bad out of last week's win over Towson. UVa was fortunately able to work some bugs out in the win over Towson which was much needed with a new and younger team. Coach Starsis was very pleased with first 20 minutes of last week's game when they went up 7-1, but was a little unhappy when they fell asleep at the beginning of the fourth. Going into the fourt the Cavaliers were up 11-4 and came out with a 12-8 win. There is no doubt that there will be no time to sleep this Saturday against Syracuse because these Orangemen are very capable of putting any team away in just one quarter. Although the Towson game was not freshmen Tillman Johnson's best day of the early season, Starsia was overall very pleased with his performance of 12 saves and some big ones later on in the game.

When asked about preparing for playing in the Dome, Starsia says that other then travelling up early and practicing in the Dome on Friday, UVa will not do anything special with their preparations for the game. Coach Starsia says the noise makes it difficult at times to do some game-time coaching, but the Dome is the most unique place to play throughout college lacrosse and is an invaluable experience for the players. Overall, Starsia feels that Syracuse may have the most experienced talent out there and right now may be considered head and shoulders above mostly everyone else. Starsie feels that UVa will have a lot to bite off with the challenge of facing 'Cuse in the Dome on Saturday - win or lose the players will grow up and learn a lot from the experience. Now for who to look for in Orange and Navy. UVa will be starting freshmen Tillman Johnson in goal in only his second collegiate start, but should have a little help in front of him from close defensemen an All-American Mark Koontz who is quickly filling the shoes of graduated star defensemen Ryan Curtis in leading the UVa defense. Running on the first midfield are Hanley Holcomb and Billy Glading who both had hat tricks last week against Towson along with Chris Rotelli. Look for David Jenkins to shine at faceoffs for the Cavaliers and for Conor Gill and AJ Shannon to lead the explosive attack for UVa.

Now for the defending 2000 National Champions Syracuse Orangemen. The Orangemen come into the 2001 season ranked #1 as do many returning national champions do in the preseason polls and they most rightfully deserve that. Desko claims that he does not want his team in a frame of mind of "defending" the crown, but wants them in the same "attacking" mode that they were in last year when they were striving for the national championship. The Orangemen are ranked #1 and it is very well justified when you take an overall look at their team. Coach Starsia says that they are stacked with "experienced talent" and that may be one of the best compliments a team can get. Experienced talent. The Orangemen return All-American goalie Rob Mulligan along with two out of three of their starting close poles from last year in Billy St. George and John Glatzel. They did lose two long poles in close defensemen Marshall Abrams and long pole midfielder Joe Ceglia, but should be more then able to fill in these gaps. For a team that lost their schools record-tying highest scorer in Ryan Powell, the Orangemen are still flying around all over the place on attack with out barely even missing a beat. Josh Coffman finally gets to play his natural position at attack, they return big-timer Mike Springer, and filling in the third attack spot is Ryan's little brother Mike Powell who some have referred to as "the Future". The midfield may be the one spot where the Orangemen are a little young and not as experienced when compared to the other three postions on the field, this should not be an underlying problem though in the long run. The thing about Syracuse this year is that they have always been really solid and dynamic on offense. Although offense is where they have always built their reputation, they have got to be bringing back at least one of the top 10(I would say top 5) defenses in the nation. This year's Syracuse team is so well grounded on the defensive end that it is borderline scary to think what they could do to some teams. UVa isn't just some team though, they are the #3-ranked team in the nation and will bring a ton of talent and energy into the Dome this Saturday to battle it out once again in what will surely be another early season classic matchup.

Coach Starsia sums up this weekend fairly accurately by saying that four of the top teams are playing, and two of them will wind up losing. These two losses are not going to change the goals of the entire season for each team. All four teams will want to win the game more then anything, but either win or lose, all four will leave as better lacrosse teams at the end of the game.

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    by (#3045) on 3/01/01 @6:34PM
Syracuse 17
Virginia 11

JHU 14
Princeton 10
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Are you kidding?
    by (#764) on 3/01/01 @6:47PM
Princeton will win against JHU. In fact, I have them pegged to win the Championship. All these freshmen from last year have a year of experience (see: Hartofilis), and all these great recruits coming in, they'll be hard to beat the next few years. This will be a close, hard-nosed, and exciting game, and I can't wait to be there this Saturday. Stay and watch Rutgers vs. Delaware after and see why Keith Cromwell (#11) for Rutgers should be a first-team All-American.

Also, if you're going to the game on Saturday, bring a jacket. It'll be chilly and ya don't wanna catch a cold, do ya?
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    by (#770) on 3/01/01 @9:51PM
I'll be seeing you there JHULAX4! The drive to the dome is abit too long, but Princeton/Hopkins is too good to miss. I was there when Carc stuffed the last second shot in 99 and ran into the woods (he just missed taking me out, in fact!) and I'll be rooting for both, but I agree that Princeton is going to be too tough for anyone, between their depth and their coaching.....Orange and Black at PSINet Stadium!
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He almost ran you over?
    by (#394) on 3/02/01 @10:02AM
Wick85... I was at that game and I don't remember anyone almost being run over. What an incredible game that was though. I still think PU was the better team that day, but got outplayed by a more motivated and excited team. Petro will do great things down at Hopkins, but not against Princeton this year.

PU - 14
JHU- 11

SU - 12
UVA- 11
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    by (#770) on 3/02/01 @10:56AM
Yeah, thats probably because you were too busy fondling that Hoagie Haven sub and couldn't see over it! Or was it the Ellsworth Deli San Francisco? No matter, cause I'll be there and I'll be enjoying my own lip-smacking "sammich" as Princeton spoils Perto's first game!

PU 12, JHU 8
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    by (#764) on 3/02/01 @3:17PM
I could go for a sammich from Hoagie Haven right now. Ain't nothin' betta.
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    by (#770) on 3/02/01 @9:12PM
That's what I'm talkin' about! Hot pastrami for a cold day, the grease dripping off the ends. Damn fine sammich! Tastes that much better with some greasy chips, too. Nuthin betta's right! Bring extra napkins, JHULAX4, cause we'll be drippin! Hey Jimlax, you in?
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What, are you kiddin'?
    by (#394) on 3/03/01 @7:53PM
I think I bought George his house I've eaten so many. The only way to go is a whole bacon cheesesteak with the bacon just undercooked and the steak dripping with fat. The best way to eat that is on a plate so you can soak up the dripping fat with your roll. Wow!! I'm with you on the bag of greasy chips, but I might also do a pack of snow balls and a root beer. I'm leaving now to get one, maybe I'll see you all there.
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    by (#38056) on 4/03/03 @6:40AM

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tough call
    by (#1384) on 3/02/01 @11:05PM
these are the two games of the season. You don't get a better saturday and I'm not going to be able to see either. SUCKS!

I am torn in the PU JHU game. I love JHU and they have just as much young talent as PU. PU brings a lot more seasoned weaponry. I can't call this game.

I think Syracuse is gonna tear UVA a new A.

How can DOUG leave out the best player on Cuse's team: Liam Banks?


F-in Ponderous.

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    by (#764) on 3/03/01 @9:54AM
Yup. Banks is a quiet knight at SU. All through the season he was so consistent, always setting up the big guns Powell and Springer. Good for him to blow up like that at the championship (unfortunately against PU, but that's good for Banks). That performance was similar to Streibel's against JHU in last season's opener, when he got like 4 or 5 goals. They didn't slide, and he took the Jays to the cleaners. Exactly like Banks'.
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Another joint to hit...
    by (#764) on 3/04/01 @6:24PM
I'm thinking that for the next game against virginia i could head over to PJ's Pancake House. I've heard good things about it, but I'm always too drawn to Hoagies Haven to try it. Has anyone tried it and what's good? Thanks.

By the way, JHU needs more offense. And did anyone see that behind the back Wedin had on that GB? That was cool. Too bad he got stripped the next play by Rosenbaum. Wedin gets stripped like that once every game. He should keep his head up. But, good job w/faceoffs Weed. You sent Bailor back to grade school. Too bad the offense can't capitalize. Also, McDermott is looking pretty good, as is Kevin Boland. They got some good players in those two. Next year, the Hop is getting a great class.
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    by (#394) on 3/04/01 @8:26PM
PJ's was great when I was eatin' a double stack of buckwheats with a side 'o bacon and a large fresh squeezed OJ. It's still damn good and a great gut buster. The best days were when the chef was hung over because all he could think about was how good his meals would be for his head. There are lots of good things to eat. I used to order either the Buckwheat pancakes or some king of cheese omelette.

Weed was smokin'until he had to carry the ball too much. He must have been back checked 6 times. Probably not hios fault complaetely... nobody was open. Bailer did decently against him until he got tired and then they tried Golaszewski... he should try another spot against Wedin. I looked and looked, but couldn't find another Hoagie Haven, or as we slaves to the Haven used to call it, The Shlaven. You must have eaten before you got there.
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    by (#764) on 3/05/01 @10:01AM
Yea, I did eat before I went. If I tried at the half or after the game, I would either be too hungry or missed some of the game. Thanks about P.J.'s

By the way, did anyone else see the Delaware-Rutgers game. I told you, Keith Cromwell (#11) should be a first-team All-American. Shavitz looked awesome in goal.

You know, Princeton could have tried Drew at face-off. He took draws for Ward Melville and could probably take a couple for Princeton. But man, JHU needs some more O. They can't score on 6 on 6. All there goals were in unsettled situations. They need a fast, hard, split-dodger like A.J. to either take it to the cage or open up the field for an assist. Conor looked terrible, but that was probably because he was one of JHU's few middie threats with Frattarola out. Matt Hanna looked really good on Saturday, as did the rookie McDermott.
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    by (#4676) on 3/23/01 @11:43AM
JHU 12
PU 10

VU 14
SU 13
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