Henry Ciccarone, Johns Hopkins' lacrosse coach, has continued to maintain surprise at the success of his Blue Jays. However, a Hopkins victory over North Carolina today in the NCAA Division I championship at Princeton would come as a shock to no one else. Game time is 2 p.m.
The top-seeded Blue Jays, 13-0 this season and victors in 47 of their last 48 games, have a 22-game victory streak. They are seeking their fourth straight title and fifth since the NCAA tournament began in 1971. In the past century, Hopkins has held or shared the national title 35 times.
Ciccarone expected something less this year. "Before the season started, I didn't think we were as good as the teams the past three years, and I never anticipated getting through the season undefeated," he said. "But this is a special group. They seem to do what they have to win."
Against the defensive-minded Tar Heels (11-0), who have surrendered only 8.2 goals per game, Hopkins will have to find offense from more than the usual sources. It will have to play defense at both ends of the field, as it did in its 10-6 semifinal victory over Virginia. Against the Cavaliers, attack man Jeff Cook (46 goals on 89 shots) was held to one goal, but he did an outstanding job pressuring any Virginia player who had possession at the Hopkins offensive end.
With Cook and midfielder Brendan Schneck, whose goal production has dropped to 31 this season from 46 last year, attracting special defensive attention, Jim Zaffuto has responded in the playoffs. In a 19-14 quarterfinal win over Maryland, Zaffuto scored six goals. Zaffuto, with 11 goals in the 11 regular-season games, also scored twice in the semifinals.
Tom Sears anchors the North Carolina defense. He ranks fourth among the nation's goalies with a .699 save ratio and made 20 saves in a 17-8 semifinal victory over Navy.
The only senior among North Carolina's top five scorers is Monty Hill. He scored four goals against Navy and has 24 for the season. Sophomore attack man Mike Burnett has a team-leading 52 points on 22 goals.