- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

The first month of the season has sprinkled few answers among some eye-catching results.

The most notable single-game surprise was Navy’s overtime loss at Bucknell last Saturday, while the respective rises of No. 2 Virginia (5-0) and No. 3 Duke (6-0) have been among the pleasant story lines of the first month. Those two and No. 1 Johns Hopkins (4-0), No. 16 Hobart (4-0), No. 17 Brown (2-0), No. 19 Dartmouth (2-0) and Harvard (2-0) are the seven remaining undefeated teams.

“I think what you’re seeing is there’s teams out there that are capable of grabbing people,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “They’re teams that [a few years ago] you wouldn’t have thought capable of doing that. Bucknell extended Maryland and got Navy. Albany got UMass. People shouldn’t be that surprised by it because there’s good teams that are only getting better. … Those are solid lacrosse programs that are capable of putting up a pretty good effort.”

Meanwhile, a couple of programs viewed as preseason final four contenders already find themselves in unexpected holes.

No. 7 Syracuse is 1-3 for the first time since 1975 (the Orange’s last losing season) after blowing a six-goal lead last night in a 12-11 overtime loss to Johns Hopkins. The defending national champs also have lost to Virginia and Georgetown and still must visit Princeton next Saturday to cap a brutal March.

The Orange might not have as much reason to be worried as No. 13 North Carolina (1-3). The Tar Heels were dominated by Navy on March 5 and lost to Notre Dame last weekend in Carson, Calif. Carolina then visited reeling Hofstra on Wednesday and was dealt a 12-8 loss.

The Tar Heels won’t be able to count on a breather anytime soon — they play Duke, Cornell, Maryland, Hopkins and Virginia in a 22-day stretch beginning this afternoon.

“We know Carolina has players. We know Syracuse has players. We’re not looking down our noses at anybody because we were where they are last year,” said Virginia coach Dom Starsia, who knows all too well the dangers of a slow start; the Cavaliers finished 5-8 a year ago after beginning the season 1-4. “You’re always afraid this could happen with the kind of schedules we play. If you don’t win the games you’re supposed to win, you just create such a roadblock for yourself that it’s so hard to win a fair share of your other games.”

Hoyas hold on

No. 5 Georgetown (3-1) defeated Syracuse for the first time since 1999 last Saturday in Carson, Calif., but it quickly received a midweek reality check upon returning to the East Coast.

The Hoyas edged Delaware 9-8, rallying from a 6-2 deficit to defeat the host Blue Hens on Wednesday. Georgetown finishes its season-opening five-game road trip today at Hobart, which could prove to be another dangerous foe.

“I told our players, think about how you felt going into the Syracuse game,” Urick said. “That’s how teams are going to come after us. It’s the same scenario. No one on this team has ever lost to Delaware or Hobart or Duke [next Saturday’s opponent] for that matter. That just means they’re going to come after you with more incentive.”

Some pain for Mids

Navy (4-1, 1-1 Patriot) likely will get back attackman Jon Birsner (back spasms) and Chris Pieczonka (shoulder bruise), who missed the Mids’ rout of Lafayette on Tuesday, when it faces Colgate (3-1, 0-0) today in Orlando, Fla.

A bigger surprise is the possible return of starting defenseman Pat Reilley, who fractured a thumb when a shot hit him in the hand in the Mids’ loss at Bucknell. The senior could have missed up to eight weeks, but he has opted to forgo surgery to finish out the season.

Nevertheless, the recent spate of injuries is a contrast to last season, when Navy remained relatively healthy en route to a national title game appearance.

“It’s just one of those things we’re going to have to deal with as the season unfolds,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “But when you get guys banged up, you don’t get a warm, fuzzy feeling. That’s one of the things that happened last year — no one got banged up too much, and we got into a real flow. Right now we’re struggling a little bit, but that’s something that happens during seasons.”

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