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Covering lacrosse from the ground (ball) up

Beginning today, I, along with colleagues who cover the sport at the college and high school levels, will be offering our thoughts and insights into the game of lacrosse.

Our observations will include event coverage, such as upcoming or recently played, big games. We’ll focus on the players, coaches and other characters surrounding the competition -- maybe an official who made a controversial call, maybe a particular fan or a group of fans that added some spice from the stands, maybe one crucial moment that affected an entire game

We’ll look to address what’s happening on the field, such as who’s hot or who’s going in the opposite direction, and why that is.

We’ll also have an eye on off-the-field issues that crop up. It could be a rules change discussion at the NCAA level, an injury problem, a behind-the-scenes moment that explains something that took place on the field, or zeroing in on a team that’s fighting for its playoff life.

At the NCAA, Division I level, several local teams are playing important contests tomorrow.

No. 8 Navy, coming off a double-overtime loss to No. 7 Maryland, a team the Midshipmen led by a goal with 10 seconds left in regulation, will try to right itself against its ultimate rival, Army, which has fallen out of the top 20 after an excellent start, comes to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium at noon.

No. 12 Loyola once again is having trouble handling success. It will try for its second straight win against No. 5 Georgetown at 1 p.m., this time on the road.

A victory would virtually secure at least an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, where the Greyhounds have not been since 2001. But Loyola, after beating Duke and Syracuse last month, flopped at unranked Rutgers last week, 17-7.

A year ago, the same thing happened a week after the Greyhounds beat Georgetown at home. They promptly lost at Fairfield, a defeat that ultimately cost them a tournament trip.

But the biggest confrontation will be at 8 p.m. at Byrd Stadium, where struggling, 10th-ranked Johns Hopkins will take on Maryland in the 103rd renewal of college lacrosse’s greatest rivalry. And the story here is 4-4 Hopkins, which is riding its first three-game losing streak since 1990 and soon could be flirting with its first losing season since 1971.

That was the year the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament started. The Blue Jays have been there every year since then. During a season in which Syracuse is treading water at 3-6 and is in serious danger of missing its first NCAA tournament since 1982, could Hopkins be next?

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