- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2008

The burgeoning list of nonconference victims for the ACC’s lacrosse teams grows every week.

Syracuse. Princeton. Georgetown. Cornell. Notre Dame. Loyola. Towson. None have managed a victory in the first four weeks of the season.

For the first time since 1993, the ACC’s four teams entered March 15 undefeated in nonconference play. In that season, the league was 10-0; this year, it was 20-0 until Maryland’s 9-8 loss at UMBC last night.

As good as the conference usually is, it might be at its best this year.

“I don’t remember any other time when we had four, and I think they’re all legit,” said Virginia’s Dom Starsia, who in his 16th season and is the dean of the league’s coaches. “I think everyone knew that for Carolina, this is going to be a peak team for them. Maryland is probably a little further along than we’d hoped they would be at this point, frankly.”

The league’s story lines and dominance somehow permitted No. 2 Virginia (7-0) to roll up its record quietly. No. 3 North Carolina (4-0) appears to be in its best shape in more than a decade. No. 6 Maryland (4-1) is thriving with three freshmen starting on attack and a rotating goalie system.

And then there’s top-ranked Duke (5-0), which was permitted to bring back several fifth-year seniors after the NCAA returned a year of eligibility after the Blue Devils’ 2006 season was cut short because of rape accusations. The Blue Devils, who play host to North Carolina today, blitzed Loyola 21-8 last week and earlier dealt Maryland its only loss.

A productive top-to-bottom ACC is not unprecedented; all four teams made the NCAA tournament in the same year four times, including last year.

But it still might be as stacked as ever.

“I think it is across the board,” said Dick Edell, who coached at Maryland from 1984 to 2001. “Duke was a weak sister for a long time. You never had four good teams there until the mid-90s. A soon as Duke got good, [former North Carolina coach Dave] Klarmann started going south and things went down there.

“Right now, I would agree. You have a pro team and three pretty good teams.”

Vinson sparks Hoyas

No. 11 Georgetown (2-2, 1-0 ECAC) might have unearthed a faceoff man in Wednesday’s 18-10 rout of Delaware.

The thing is, he has been on the Hoyas’ roster for three seasons.

Senior Dan Vinson won 11 of 20 faceoffs, a revelation for a team winning only 42.9 percent of its draws and a vital reason for an eight-goal outburst in the third quarter.

“We’ve never used him much at all and we throw him in to see if we can get a spark because we’re having trouble,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “In the third quarter, he was 5-for-5 before he lost one. It’s certainly a lot easier to score when you don’t have to play defense.”

Vinson is a walk-on the Hoyas cut three years ago. Before Wednesday’s victory, he had taken only seven faceoffs in his career, but Urick said the California native was already a valuable asset.

“He’s a player who the players all respect,” said Urick, whose Hoyas play host to Hobart (2-1, 0-0) today. “He does anything you ask and he does it with a hop in his step. He’s just a real unique kind of man that coaches really love to coach. He’d drive the team bus if you asked him to.”

On the road

The sport heads to a few out-of-the-way places this weekend.

No. 10 Navy (5-1, 2-0 Patriot) meets Holy Cross (3-2, 0-2) at Texas Stadium, part of an event also featuring Army-Rutgers. It is the second straight year the Midshipmen have played in Dallas.

Meanwhile, No. 7 Notre Dame will play Dartmouth in Atlanta.

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