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Booton Herndon
May 09, 1955
The old Indian game of lacrosse has come into its own as a spring sport. Its ingredients include brave hearts, stout clubs and a slow whistle
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May 09, 1955

Skull 'em! Hip 'em! Score!

The old Indian game of lacrosse has come into its own as a spring sport. Its ingredients include brave hearts, stout clubs and a slow whistle

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A body check is a most effective weapon. In the Dartmouth-Maryland game this year a quiet, unassuming young man from Dartmouth mistakenly intercepted a Maryland pass near his own goal and stood for a split second in perplexity wondering what to do with it. Three Maryland men hit him at the same time and he, ball, gloves and stick all shot up as though squirted out of a toothpaste tube.

"We do that all the time!" Jack Faber, the Maryland coach, exclaimed proudly. "When they intercept we bump 'em quick to get that ball back before they can move it!"

With a big aggressive squad and two potential All-Americas in Ronnie Smith and Charlie (Wimp) Wicker, Maryland is virtually assured of the national championship this year. Saturday, the red-and-white-clad Terrapins edged by Navy 9-8 in a rugged game witnessed by what is reported to be the largest crowd in lacrosse history, 13,000.


For Navy, last year's champion, the loss was its first in almost two years, and the main difference was Wicker. A strapping 185-pounder from the sand-lots of Baltimore, Wicker was all over the field on the attack, set up four goals, scored another and with less than a minute to play intercepted the ball and ran away from Navy's great football end, Ron Beagle, as the clock ticked off the final seconds.

In lacrosse, there is never any argument over who is the champion. The selection is made by the Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association by means of an elaborate point system. Likewise, the All-America team will be the All-America team, chosen by one central committee on advice of the coaches.

Lacrosse teams are divided into three divisions, and there's as much difference between the top and the bottom as there is between the Big Leagues and Class D. The top teams in the A Division last year were, in order of national ranking, Navy, Army, Duke, Maryland, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Yale and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Syracuse was first in the B Division, followed by Washington College, Hofstra, Harvard, Penn, Rutgers, Cornell, Baltimore, Swarthmore, Loyola, Hobart, Dartmouth, Penn State, Williams and Delaware. Class C teams were, in order, Union, New Hampshire, Stevens Tech, Amherst, Lehigh, Oberlin, MIT, Adel-phi, CCNY, Cortland State, Tufts, Hamilton, Dickinson, Lafayette and Worcester Poly. Incidentally a team gets as many points for losing to some Class A powerhouse like Johns Hopkins as for beating some Class C patsy like Ohio State University.

There are two distinct types of play, loosely referred to as northern and southern. Army, Navy, Princeton, and the teams in and south of Maryland pass a lot, with close team work and deft scoring plays. Baltimore is the breeding ground for this type of game. Northern teams play a dodging game with one or two fleet-footed stars zigzagging down the field with the ball. The southern teams also play a more aggressive game. The annual Army-Navy encounter, each team sporting a half dozen or so football players, is a glorious riot, and good lacrosse too.

The service teams develop their own players. At Army, Coach Morris Touchstone works his candidates out all winter in the riding hall. Coach Moore of Navy can't get on the job until March 1. (For eight months of the year Dr. W. H. Moore III runs a home for wealthy oldsters. "We have a man playing piano at luncheon every single day and an organ concert in the afternoon.") He handpicks his squad from over 200 candidates each year.

First he puts them through wind sprints, noting the fast ones. Then he lines them up in a column of threes, sticks in hand. He throws out a ball, blows a whistle, and the three front men take off after it. The two men on the left work together against the one man on the right. The midshipman who winds up with the ball gets a hearty clap on the shoulder, but it's the man with the matted hair and blood on his stick who makes the team. Speed and aggressiveness, that's what Dinty wants. Given a boy with those attributes, he can teach him lacrosse.

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