In a gesture of
good, clean sportsmanship, circa 1907, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore
gave lacrosse lessons to its then friendly neighbor in nearby Annapolis, the
U.S. Naval Academy. Playing its first game the following year Navy was
thoroughly thrashed 6-1—by Johns Hopkins. "They taught us everything they
knew—up to a fine, small point," a Navy lacrosse coach reflected the other
Navy has not
forgotten the slight and never overlooks a chance for settling—and
re-settling—the old score. Last Saturday in Annapolis, before the biggest paid
crowd (14,100) ever to watch an intercollegiate lacrosse game, Navy added to
its measure of revenge in a meeting of undefeated teams that may have settled a
national championship, too. When the head-banging and shin-barking was over,
Navy had beaten Hopkins 16-11.
What hurt Hopkins
the most was the fact that had it won this game it would have been Hopkins that
was headed for the national title. This would probably (and properly, they say)
have put the championship in Baltimore, the GHQ of lacrosse. But that's how
it's been for three years running; Hopkins no more than gets its foot in the
championship door than Navy ungallantly slams it.
The pattern that
evolved in this year's episode of the neighborhood rumble came as no surprise
to Navy's tacticians. Even the score was closely estimated in advance by a Navy
coach, who astutely predicted a 15-9 victory for the Midshipmen.
concede the early goals to Hopkins and then swallow them whole in the second
half," said Assistant Coach Dick Corrigan. Corrigan's logic was based on
some demonstrable facts. He knew—and dearly appreciated—that Hopkins had Henry
Ciccarone and All-America Jerry Schmidt (SI, April 23), possibly the two finest
college lacrosse players in the country. And, like Jason's warriors springing
full-grown from the dragon's teeth, virtually every man on the Hopkins team had
sprung from the lacrosse-fertile soil of Baltimore. Each of them had a
reputation for being in the right spot at the right time and for being
breathtakingly adept at manipulating that unwieldy-looking instrument, the
But, though Navy
had no Schmidt and no longer a Ciccarone (he is a former Midshipman), it had
capable players, and plenty of them, for every position. Hopkins' talent was
considerable but its ranks were thin, and Navy planned to win by the weight of
was determined never to slow down, especially on defense. When a Hopkins man
had the ball, the Navy men had orders to run him until he got rid of it. If a
Navy man got tired, he had only to show it and a fresh reservist would be
dispatched to the front immediately. A certain risk was involved, because this
unusual lacrosse version of basketball's full-court-press defense occasionally
would let a Hopkins man get a clear shot at Navy's goal. But Navy was cockily
confident it could make up any deficit once Hopkins' tongue was hanging. And,
sure enough, it did.
Behind, but not
face-offs from the very beginning ("That helped kill us right there,"
Bob Scott, the Hopkins coach, said later), Navy scored twice in the first three
minutes—the second goal by blocky Midfielder Pete Taylor, Navy's highest
lacrosse scorer this season, with 18 goals. (Significantly, it was Taylor's
only point of the day, an index to the fine overall balance of the Navy
attack.) But then, even as Corrigan had foreseen, Johns Hopkins' nimble
opportunists broke through Navy's swirling defense five straight times to
score. Despite this upsetting flurry, Navy stuck undaunted to its pressing
tactics—and also came up with four more goals of its own while on offense. At
the half the game was tied 6-6.
The second half,
while still following the Navy's plan, looked like a different game. Hopkins
was tiring, but Navy, having digested half-time oranges, Cokes and pep talks,
was as fresh as ever. Freshest of all was Arnold Glassner, a sort of lacrosse
garbage man who specializes in collecting loose balls around the goal mouth and
throwing them home. Plying his trade, the midfielder scored three times in the
space of 50 seconds, once by flipping the ball offhandedly over his shoulder.
"That was our undoing, " Hopkins' Scott said afterward. "Physically
I think we were holding up a lot better than Navy had expected us to, but then
that Glassner broke our spirit."