- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

The latest fallout from rape accusations against three Duke lacrosse players — the resignation of coach Mike Pressler on Wednesday — sent further ripples throughout the sport’s tight-knit community.

The accusations, which stemmed from a March 13 party attended by nearly all of Duke’s players, scuttled a season that began with the Blue Devils ranked No. 1. Duke president Richard Brodhead canceled the rest of the season Wednesday.

Pressler was in his 16th season at Duke and earned national coach of the year honors last year after leading the Blue Devils to their first national title game, and ranked seventh among active coaches in career victories (229) when the resignation was announced.

“It was pretty sobering,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said.

As coaches throughout the sport grapple with the Duke scandal, teams scheduled to play the Blue Devils are scrambling to determine if they will add replacement games. Johns Hopkins defeated Mount St. Mary’s on Monday in the first such game to be added.

Starsia said it was unlikely the top-ranked Cavaliers (10-0) would try to reschedule a game since it would likely have to be a midweek contest. Georgetown coach Dave Urick said he had informal discussions with Starsia last week, though nothing definite came of the talks since Duke’s situation was not resolved yet.

“We have to take a look at our situation,” Urick said. “My instincts are to play just to allow our kids to get a full schedule in. The benefits to playing are there … [but] do you want to play midweek and jeopardize preparation and all that. And then injuries become a factor.”

The other teams to lose games are Army, Denver and Ohio State, although geographical limitations and scheduling logistics could prevent those teams from coming to the area.

Kass unlikely to play

Georgetown expects to be without sophomore goalie Miles Kass today when the No. 2 Hoyas (6-1) visit Fairfield.

Kass (7.43 goals-against average, .570 save percentage) also sat out last Saturday’s victory at Navy with a sprained knee.

“My instinct would say probably not,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “My guess is to be a little bit more sure and little more conservative so we don’t have a relapse. That’s kind of something we have to look at.”

The Hoyas have a capable replacement in Rich D’Andrea, a three-year starter who moved to defensive midfield this season. D’Andrea made 11 saves against Navy.

Kass might not be the only Hoyas player to miss today’s game. Defenseman Rob Smith suffered a cracked thumb early in the Navy game, and attackman Brendan Cannon and midfielder Ryan Still are both battling nagging injuries.

Pride roars at No. 3

After a two-year hiatus from the NCAA tournament, Hofstra could be in line to make a run at its first final four berth.

The No. 3 Pride (8-1), which played with small senior classes the last two years, has finally grown up, capitalizing on an up-tempo style many programs now eschew. Hofstra has defeated Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Towson since a season-opening loss to Massachusetts behind a deep offense led by Athan Iannucci (27 goals) and Chris Unterstein (18 goals, 18 assists), prompting a rapid rise in the rankings.

“I’m not going to say we’re No. 2,” Hofstra coach John Danowski said. “I think Nos. 2 through 20 are probably pretty interchangeable with some breaks and little bit of luck. The 20th-ranked team in the country could get on a roll, the second-ranked team could fall early. That’s where our sport is.”

Towson’s Williams adjusts

It happens every spring: Nick Williams struggles early in his transition from playing tailback for Towson’s football team to assuming a midfield spot in lacrosse, then comes on strong late in the season.

Williams’ surge might have started Wednesday when he scored two goals — including the game-winner with 2:30 left — as the No. 12 Tigers upended No. 13 UMBC 8-7.

“I hope that being good at one makes me better at the other,” Williams said. “It takes me a while to get back into any sport since I missed the fall, just like in football I miss the spring. But the guys are great, they help me out and kick my [butt] to get me back in shape.”

The one skill that has limited Williams’ effectiveness is his shooting. Williams was 12-for-81 in his first two seasons, but has improved to 5-for-24 this year for the Tigers (5-4).

“He only has one problem, and that’s that he’s shooting at a lacrosse goal and not a soccer goal. If he puts it inside the pipes, he scores goals,” Towson coach Tony Seaman said. “Once he gets back into the flow of lacrosse, he’s a tremendous athlete.”

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