North Carolina surprised three-time defending champion Johns Hopkins with a zone defense and, with the aid of three Hopkins goals that were disallowed, defeated the Blue Jays, 14-13, today in Palmer Stadium to capture its first NCAA lacrose championship.
The Tar Heels (12-0) had never been in a championship final, but before an estimated crowd of 22,100, believed to be the largest ever to see a lacrosse game, rallied from an 11-8 second-half deficit with six unanswered goals. Hopkins (13-1), which came into the game as winner of 47 of its last 48 and 22 in a row, scored twice in the final 1:08 and had possesion the final seven seconds, but could not attempt a tying shot.
Apparent goals by Hopkins' Jeff Cook at the end of the first quarter and Bill Cantelli at the conclusion of the third were both disallowed because officials ruled time expired.
But neither call was as controversial, or as important, as the one following a shot by Cook with 7:45 remaining and the score tied, 11-11. Cook, seven yards away from the crease on the right side, unleased a shot that appeared to cause a flick six inches inside the left side of the net. sThe ball ended up outside the net and when play was stopped a few seconds later, it was ruled no goal. The officials said the ball hit the crossbar and the back of the net.
After the game, Cook, who scored six goals (52 this season), said there was no doubt in his mind that it should have counted.
"I don't think the official had the guts to call the shot," said Hopkins' Coach Henry Ciccarone. "If his positioning had been the way it should have, it may have been a different call."
Mike Burnett, who finished with four goals for North Carolina, and Doug Hall, who had three, each scored twice in the 15:58 stretch that encompassed most of the fourth quarter and during which the Tar Heels turned the game around.
After Mike Donnelly scored an extra-man goal for Hopkins at 11:56 of the third quarter, giving Hopkins an 11-8 lead, Steve Stenersen rigged a faceoff to Hall. Hall went right at the crease and scored, cutting the margin to two.
North Carolina, which had never before trailed by three goals in any game this season, was helped by Stenersen's skillful faceoff work (18 of 31) several times in the six-goal run. He won the faceoff starting the fourth quarter and 18 seconds later Burnett made it a one-goal game. Pete Voelkel tied the game for the fourth and final time, 11-11, at 6:39.
Following the no-goal call, hard work by Monty Hill near the right sideline to save a ball resulted in Hall's giving Carolina its first lead, 12-11, with 5:25 to go. Hill flipped the ball to Hall waiting in the middle, and Hall fired low past Hopkins goalie Brian Holman.
Sternsen, who won six of eight faceoffs in the final period, won another to set up Burnett's goal that went between Holman's legs 40 seconds later. Jeff Homire scored for a 14-11 lead at 13:06.
Brendan Schneck and Cook, whose 80 points are a school season record, each scored within a 23-second span. But on the faceoff after Cook's goal, Hopkins' Lance Schneck was offsides, and the Tar Heels took possession and ran off 38 of the final 45 seconds.
North Carolina goalie Tom Sears was credited with 18 saves, none bigger than when he went to his knees to stop Cook with 2:28 to play.
Hopkins jumped to a 5-2 lead after 11:15 of the first period as Bill Cazntelli, Jeff Kendall and Jeff Harris all scored on one-on-one efforts after Hall tied the game, 2-2. At that point, North Carolina Coach Willie Scroggs, a Hopkins graduate, switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone Hopkins had not prepared for.
"They play a pattern offense where they get you out of their way, and we wanted to play a zone," said Scroggs. "Early we tried to play them six-on-six, but even when we slid over on Jeff Cooke, he just bounced off people."