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Top-ranked Cornell and second-ranked Johns Hopkins both notched one-sided victories Saturday to advance to the NCAA lacrosse championship game. The showdown will be held this Saturday at the University of Virginia.
The Big Red routed Navy, 22-6, to rack up its 28th straight triumph and to move one step closer to its second consecutive title. Meanwhile in Baltimore, Hopkins jumped out to an early lead against old rival Maryland and cruised to a 22-12 victory.
This week's championship battle will match the traditional power against a team with a modern new program for the 70's. Hopkins has won an amazing 27 national championships and, since World War II alone, has produced 55 first-team All-Americans. The sport's Hall of Fame sits adjacent to the Blue Jays' historic Homewood Field; until a few years ago, one could surely say that Johns Hopkins was lacrosse.
The Blue Jays' dominance has been shaken somewhat in recent years, however. The first official NCAA tournament in 1971 caught Hopkins in an off-year; with a disasterous 3-7 record, the team wasn't even invited. Hopkins has gone to the tournament eacy year since, but the experience has generally been a string of heartbreaks.
In 1972, a superb group of sophomores led by Jack Thomas, Rick Kowalchuk, and Les Matthews turned the team around and were favored to take the title. Instead, Hopkins had to swallow a 13-12 upset loss to Virginia in the final.
The next spring, the Blue Jays played in the final against an undefeated Maryland team that had handed them a 17-4 thrashing in the regular season and was being called the greatest squad in history. Hopkins stunned the Terps by forcing the contest into overtime but finally bowed out anyway, 10-9.
The next season was the last for longtime coach Bob Scott, and the super sophomores, now seniors, went out in style, pounding Maryland in the final, 17-12.
Under new coach Henry Ciccarone, Hopkins had failed to make the final until this year. The Blue Jays feel they're about due for title number 28.
For Cornell on the other hand, the recent years have been their best. The Big Red has completely dominated the Ivy League under coach Richie Moran, winning 47 of 48 games and seven league crowns in the last eight seasons. Cornell won the initial NCAA tournament in 1971 and went all the way again last year for a perfect 16-0 season. The team was aclaimed as one of the great squads in history.
All-Americans Billy Marino and Mike French--surely one of the best half-dozen men ever to play the game--graduated last spring, but Cornell is still tough. The big gun is attackman Eamon McEneaney, who spent two years breaking various assist records while passing the ball to French and this year started to score goals in bunches himself.
Cornell handed Hopkins its only loss of the regular season, 12-11 in Ithaca.
In an astonishing two-game series held over the weekend, the Harvard Crimson sortball squad ended their spring season with a near perfect 3-0 season's record by beating the Independent 23-2 on Saturday and the Lampoon 23-2 yesterday.
The wins were remarkable because the Crimson only fielded three players in the Independent match and four in the Lampoon game.
"I think the platooning helped us a lot," Crimson coach Frank J. Connolly said yesterday. "Also the fact that I talked them into letting me keep score," he added.
The Lampoon team was upset over the loss. "Not only are they a better softball team, but they're also a lot funnier than us," quipped one Lampoonie.
But the Independent players took their loss the hardest. "It's tough enough being a second-rate newspaper," said one disgruntled team member, "but do we have to be a second-rate softball team, too?" --T.A.J.M.
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