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When Terry Riordan gives a thumbnail version of his life, he
fails to relate anything suggesting that he might become the
leading goal-scorer on the nation's top-rated college lacrosse
team, the position in which he finds himself today. His athletic
career at Baldwin (N.Y.) High? ``Aw, I was just this really tall,
rail-thin kid,'' he says. ``I even had a long geeky neck.'' The
scholarship offers he attracted from several lacrosse powers and a
few Division I-AA football programs? Clearly mistakes. ``My high
school football coach always joked that I ran as if my feet were
stuck in cement,'' Riordan says.

Actually, the 6'5", 215-pound Riordan runs a respectable
4.8-second 40-yard dash. ``That's only on a good day,'' he
insists. Nor does he claim to be the shiftiest of players. ``I try
dodging people; I'm just not very good at it,'' Riordan says,
wincing. However, he does not dispute that he has fallen for
existential philosophy. ``Kierkegaard, Nietzsche -- I love those
guys!'' he says.

Given Riordan's difficulty in taking a compliment, it seems that
he is yet to absorb Nietzsche's concept of the superman. Halfway
through his senior season at Johns Hopkins -- which has the most
storied lacrosse program in the nation -- the 21-year-old Riordan
has already shattered the school record of 152 career goals. With
163 goals, including 31 so far this season, he has an outside
chance of breaking the collegiate record of 193. Last Saturday,
Riordan scored five goals, including the game-winner with 12
seconds remaining, to lift the Blue Jays to a 16-15 victory over
third-ranked Maryland. He's a cinch to win All-America honors for
the fourth straight year, and Johns Hopkins, which improved its
record to 8-0 with the Maryland win, is favored to win the NCAA

Although the Blue Jays have been to the NCAA semifinals twice in
Riordan's career, they haven't won the championship since 1987 --
a sore spot for a lacrosse-mad school that owns 42 national
crowns. The Lacrosse Hall of Fame is a mere
two-minute walk from the lacrosse stadium on Johns Hopkins'
Baltimore campus. The Blue Jays often draw 8,000 to 10,000 fans to
home games. ``And believe me, those 8,000 people sound like a
million sometimes,'' says Riordan. ``When I first got here and saw
the alumni, the attention and all that, I thought, Holy cow. This
is really serious.''

Riordan has become a serious part of Hopkins lore with his
goal-scoring. He doesn't pass off much, and he doesn't tear
through traffic on zigzagging scoring runs. What Riordan does best
is wheel around the picks his teammates set for him and shoot on
the run. His height and reach help him fend off defenders. ``Then
his shot comes in on the net at about 98 or 100 miles an hour,''
says Hopkins coach Tony Seaman. ``He also puts the ball in great
spots. That's what makes him incredible.''

Riordan? Incredible? He can't even countenance the thought right
now. With the national title still undecided, he says, ``I don't
want to jinx myself or the team.''

Once that's settled, Riordan will face his other big worry of the
moment: settling on a career. His degree will be in sociology, but
he says he would like to pursue acting. When asked if he has taken
any drama classes, he says, ``No.'' Been in any high school plays?
``None.'' Ever try karaoke, amateur night at a local comedy club?
``Nothing. I'd just like to try acting. I don't even know if I
have any ability.''

He surely wouldn't admit it if he did.

-- Johnette Howard

COLOR PHOTO:GEORGE TIEDEMANNJohns Hopkins' hopes for an NCAA crown rest with its goal-getter.[Terry Riordan during game]