May 25, 1998
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Princeton punctuated its claim as one of college lacrosse's great programs by beating Maryland 15-5 on Monday for its third straight NCAA Division I title and fifth in seven years.
Only two other teams have won three straight Division I titles, Syracuse (1988-90) and Johns Hopkins (1978-80). No team has ever won four in a row.
Goalie Corey Popham, who was in danger of losing his job on the eve of the Final Four, was the star of the final, making 17 saves as Princeton (14-1) beat Maryland (14-3) for the title for the second straight year.
Princeton, the second seed in the tournament, was led by its senior attack line. Jesse Hubbard scored four goals - all in the fourth quarter - Chris Massey had three and Jon Hess two goals and four assists.
Scott Hochstadt had two goals for No. 5 seed Maryland, which lost the title game for the third time in four years. The five goals were a season-low for the Terps, who have not won an NCAA title since 1975.
Last year's title game was also a rout, 19-7. However, this one was actually tied 3-3 at halftime before the Tigers, who also won the title in 1992 and '94, broke things open with five straight goals in the third period.
Hess set up Lorne Smith's tie-breaking goal with 12:32 left in the quarter and then struck again, breaking Maryland's spirit on an open-net goal with 10:19 left. Maryland defenseman Brian Reese made a bad pass to goalie Kevin Healy while advancing the ball up the field and Hess scooped up the loose ball and scored on an uncontested breakaway.
The play seemed to demoralize Maryland, which knocked off top-seeded Loyola, Md., on Saturday in the semifinals at Rutgers Stadium.
Josh Sims, Hess and Massey scored over the next five-plus minutes and the lead was suddenly 8-3.
Even when Maryland got chances in the span, Popham came up big. He stopped Erik Osberg in close and stopped a breakaway by Matt Hahn, the Terps' all-time leader goal scorer who was blanked on Monday.
Popham was replaced after a bad performance in last weekend's quarterfinal win over Duke and did not know all week whether he would play. He played well in Saturday's thrilling 11-10 win over Syracuse and came up big again on Monday.
Maryland, which trailed by seven goals at halftime last year, got goals from Frank Radin and Bob Hanna in a one-minute second quarter span to leave the field tied at 3-3.
After Brian Zeller scored to give Maryland an early 1-0 lead, Smith and John Wynne scored 1:07 apart to put Princeton ahead 2-1. Massey scored from 6 yards out early in the second quarter to stretch the lead to 3-1.