Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, the two teams that have dominated college lacrosse this season, collide today in a match that could preview the national final and settle which really is No. 1.
"It's only a regular-season game but it's still not just another game for us," Terrapin Coach Buddy Beardmore said yesterday. "When these two schools get together, it's a matter of pride."
The second-ranked Terps will try to regain the pride that has been diminished by four consecutive Blue Jay victories. The 2 p.m. game at Maryland's Byrd Stadium will be televised on WJZ-TV-13.
When they met last, Hopkins dealt Maryland a 17-11 defeat in the semifinals of the 1978 NCAA tournament. Those 11 goals represented the fewest in a game that year by the Terps. Hopkins went on to beat Cornell for the national championship.
The top-ranked Blue Jays have not lost much of that stingy defense, despite the graduation of two first team All-Americas, defenseman Willie Hazlehurst and midfielder Bob DeSimone. Unbeaten Hopkins has allowed only 45 goals in eight games, and only 14 goals in 64 shots while the Jays were one man down.
"Hopkins has a very stiff defense," said Virginia Coach Jim Adams, who faced both teams. "It is hard to even get a good shot against the likes of (defensemen) Mark Greenberg and David Black. When we did get the openings (goalie Mike) Federico rose to the occasion to make some great saves. Greenberg and Federico are two of the best I've seen."
Beardmore does not believe either team can prevent the other's shooting. The Terp coach thinks the goalies might decide the outcome.
Bryant Waters has been the main man in goal in unbeaten Maryland's five games. Waters' quick reactions accounted for 23 saves against Virgnia, and he held the Cavaliers scoreless nearly two periods.
Maryland defenseman Randy Ratliff has made Waters' job easier, stopping some fine attackmen. But Hopkins has no super scorer or playmaker to key on.
"One big difference between the 1978 and this year's Hopkins team is that last year you knew the ball was going to Mike O'Neill," Beardmore said. "Now they have a controlled offense with everybody taking part. That makes it more difficult to key your defense."
Ned Radebaugh and Jeff Harris have scored 13 goals apiece for the Jays, while attack Jim Zaffuto leads all playmakers with 16 assists. Twenty players have scored Hopkins goals; Maryland has points from 11.
Most proficient Maryland offensive player is attack Bob Boneillo, a second-team AllAmerica who Beardmore likes to keep in the entire game. Boneillo is tied with midfielder Ron Martinello as team scoring leader with 15 goals, but the attackman's playmaking has produced another 35 tallies.
"Maryland showed us an awful lot of offensive power," Adams said. "They found the open man very well. It will come down to whether Hopkins' defense can hold back Maryland's explosiveness."
The Terps have played a slightly harder schedule, taking on three of the top seven ranked teams. However, Hopkins shows an easy victory over third-ranked Cornell and a six-goal triumph over No. 4 Virginia.