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The Daily Tar Heel

Haus to Face Off Against Old Team

On the field in front of North Carolina's lacrosse coach will be the players from Johns Hopkins, the team Haus coached to consecutive final fours in his two seasons as the Blue Jays' head coach before coming to UNC this season.

On the sideline next to him will be David Pietramala, the man who not only took Haus' spot at Johns Hopkins but also was an All-American defenseman for the Blue Jays in the late 1980s at the outset of Haus' stint as defensive coordinator.

Pietramala's assistant coaches, meanwhile, Seth Tierney and Bill Dwan also played for Haus from 1988 to '91.

Yes, the No. 5 Blue Jays are coming to town for a 1 p.m. meeting, and as if Haus' present wasn't difficult enough, he'll have to face his past as well this weekend.

"My job now is to get the Tar Heels ready to play lacrosse," Haus said. "And sure, I have the utmost respect for everyone of those players for Hopkins. And I know they're going to come here and play hard and be focused. And I know they're going to try to win, and I respect that."

Respect would be an appropriate attitude with which to approach Saturday's game for the No. 14 Tar Heels (4-3). They are coming off consecutive losses to

top-10 teams Duke and Maryland, and the Blue Jays (3-1) will bring possibly the best defense in the nation to Fetzer Field.

Senior close-defensemen Brandon Testa, Brendan Shook and Shawn Nadelen have started 13 consecutive games together for a Blue Jay defense that has held opponents to eight goals or less in seven of those games.

Johns Hopkins has yielded 8.3 goals per game this season thanks to its seasoned long-pole unit and goalie Rob Scherr, who boasts a .588 save percentage.

The Blue Jays also have P.J. DiConza, a long-stick midfielder whom Haus said is one of the best ropers in the country and who could give Austin Garrison and the rest of UNC's offensive middies fits.

"It's a huge challenge," Haus said. "Their three seniors on close defense are all, in my opinion, All-Americans, and that doesn't happen too often."

The challenge is only greater because of the Tar Heels' offensive woes this season. They combined for 15 goals their past two games and are averaging 9.6 per contest on the season, barely doing justice for an inexperienced defense that has been giving up just 8.9 per game.

Senior All-American attackman Jeff Sonke has been struggling as the Tar Heels' only legitimate threat on an offense that has been plagued by unfinished scoring chances.

"The biggest challenge has been getting all the classes to blend together, getting the seniors to play with a lot of the young guys and encouraging them and getting them to step up their game a level," said UNC assistant coach Todd Cavallaro, who is primarily responsible for the offense. "And we've had great success in starting to do that."

Saturday is a good time for the Tar Heels to break out of their offensive funk so they can keep their hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament alive. Haus probably wouldn't mind a chance to stick it to his old team, either.

"Obviously, this is huge for him and for us," Sonke said. "We need a big win. That's just icing on the cake since it's his old team."

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