In preparation for today's NCAA lacrosse semifinal game at second-ranked Johns Hopkins, Maryland Coach Buddy Beardmore planned to put his team up at a hotel and take in a movie last night.
"I wish Rocky had been playing," Beardmore complained.
Like the youthful Philadelphia fighter, the third-seeded Terrapins find themselves in an underdog role at 2 p.m. against the Blue Jays, who, to use Beardmore's verb "embarrassed Maryland in a 19-13 game three weeks ago.
In the other semifinal, fourth-seeded Navy (10-2) travels to topranked, unbeaten Cornell, winner of the last two national titles for a 5:15 game. The final four is a duplicate of last year's.
Navy distinguishes itself from the rest of the field by being the youngest, with sophomores Mike Buzzell and Brendan Schneck leading the attack. With 36 goals and 38 assists, Buzzell is one point shy of the school single-season record set by All-America Jeff Long last season. Schneck's 45 goals broke a 30-year Navy record held by J.H.L. Chambers Jr.
What Kentucky was to this year's NCAA basketball final four, Cornell is to the lacrosse semifinals. And maybe even more. The Big Red have a 41-game win streak, last losing to Navy in the 1975 semifinals, 15-12. The last time Cornell and Navy met was in the 1977 final four.
The Big Red brushed by the Mids, 22-6, on the way to a third NCAA title in the tournament's then seven years of existence.
Beardmore has claimed two titles, in 1973 and 1975, with star-studded teams. He feels his chances this year and particularly today, hinge on whether or not this less heralded, highly emotional bunch can take the field with that wonderful intangible coaches tug at their scalps for - the proper mental attitude.
In the last game at Hopkins, the players were apparently dizzied by a front-page newspaper story, an alumni game and the intoxicating rivalry with Johns Hopkins. They played quite badly and were dealt their only loss of the year.
"We were so keyed up, we were not thinking lacrosse," said Beardmore. "We are capable of playing much better than that and I'm very happy to have the opportunity to prove it. This is such an emotional team and sometimes it wants to win so bad it gets to the point where it can't think very well."
"We were pretty well embarrassed last time, and it was demoralizing. I'm happy with the way they were able to bounce back, but it's hard to go into this game with a completely positive attitude."
Maryland was hurt badly in the faceoffs against Hopkins. The Blue Jays used the advantage to control the tempo and play its deliberate, lowgear offense, which Beardmore respectfully calls "unnerving."
To counter this, Beardmore has been using Bob Ott in the faceoff the last two games and will use him extensively there today. Ott had been kept out of faceoff duty most of the year, primarilto rest him for other duties. But Beardmore says he is clearly the Terps' best faceoff man.