Top-ranked North Carolina, led by all-America goalie Tom Sears, shut out Johns Hopkins for almost 25 minutes and David Wingate scored five goals as the Tar Heels defeated the Blue Jays, 7-5, for their second straight NCAA lacrosse title.
The Tar Heels (14-0) relied almost entirely on an unusual zone defense to shake up Hopkins and earn their 26th consecutive victory and third straight over the Blue Jays (11-3). Hopkins outshot the Tar Heels, 50-39, but the zone defense forced the Blue Jays outside, where they had to be content with mostly 15-foot shots.
"When we got a lead, we went into the zone because we thought we could dictate what they could do," said North Carolina Coach Willie Scroggs, a Hopkins alumnus. "When you're in a zone, it makes the other team pull the ball out and shoot from the outside. You give up about a 16-foot shot. But we have so much confidence in our goalie and our defense to stop those."
Sears, the Atlantic Coast Conference's most valuable player, came out of the goal all afternoon to harass Hopkins' attackmen. He finished with 18 saves, half coming in the second period.
"It's just something I do," Sears said. "I like to play with reckless abandon--go out, have fun and throw the ball around a lot."
After scoring once in the first half to trail, 4-1, at intermission, Hopkins outscored North Carolina, 4-1, in the last 25 minutes to pull within 7-5. But after Mike Donnelly scored his third goal at 13:18 of the last period, the Tar Heels controlled the ensuing faceoff and Sears turned away two more close-range shots.
North Carolina took advantage of Hopkins' uncharacteristic play in the first period to score three times in the first seven minutes. Wingate, a native of Baltimore, scored all the goals, twice shooting into a wide-open net past goalie Brian Holman. Wingate had scored six goals when the teams played earlier this season.
But the Tar Heels, who averaged 16 goals a game this season, could not capitalize on several ensuing close-in opportunities. Yet, a jittery Hopkins team had so much trouble completing even open-field passes--making 11 unforced errors in the opening quarter--that Carolina's lead held.
"The game was played at our tempo," said Johns Hopkins Coach Henry Ciccarone, whose team stayed with a deliberate half-field offense in the face of North Carolina's zone. "If somebody had told me before the game that we would have held them to seven goals, I would have said, 'Then we'll win.' If we were going to beat them, today was the day.
"But after that first period, I had to tell the players to concentrate on the fundamentals--catching, throwing and picking the ball up."
Hopkins settled down enough in the second period for Donnelly to score after nearly 25 minutes had elapsed in the game. But Wingate countered moments later with his fourth goal to raise the Tar Heels' lead back to three.
After Pete Voelkel and Jeff Homire scored in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second half to increase North Carolina's lead to 6-1, Donnelly and Bill Cantelli scored in extra-man situations to cut the margin back to four goals by the end of the third period.