Illness can't keep Geppi-Aikens from today's 1-vs.-2 matchup

Now, however, things gets much more intense - and interesting. With Maryland (16-2) and Loyola set to square off in their annual regular-season finale, this is where the emotion of Loyola's season intersects with hard-core competitive reality.

Does anyone think that Cindy Timchal's Terps - owners of 10 national championships and the big sister in this intrastate Division I lacrosse rivalry - are going to allow anything to get in the way of their goals?

Both Maryland and Loyola have secured spots in the NCAAs. The outcome of this game is not likely to change much except perhaps the location of first-round games. However, there's always something at stake when Terps and Greyhounds collide.

"It's a total rivalry for many years. It's the last game of the season, and even though we're usually playing to get into the tournament, this one's still big. This one's for pride," Geppi-Aikens said.

Talk about tunnel vision; the Terps are barely willing to acknowledge that Loyola presents a special challenge this season, considering Geppi-Aikens' enduring battle against cancer and the Greyhounds' stirring run at No. 1 - which is where the Terps usually sit.

"Obviously, it's horrible what's happening with Diane, but we still want to win," Timchal said.

With both Loyola and Maryland coming off losses, the showdown seems a little more meaty. Wednesday night, No. 6 Princeton demolished the Terps at Ludwig Field. The Tigers scored nearly at will, prompting some within the program to wonder whether Maryland might have been looking too far ahead to Loyola and all the extra fuss this matchup will bring.

As of Thursday, the Terps were unwilling to talk about what they, like other teams, would do to honor Geppi-Aikens.

"Honestly, I know some teams say they take it game by game, but we do," said Terps defenseman Julie Shank, professing that the Terps had not discussed what they would, if anything, do.

This suits Geppi-Aikens just fine. More than fine, actually.

"I don't expect it. I don't want it. I don't want any pity," she said.

"I have tremendous respect for Cindy. No one's won more national championships than she has. She has a talented team every year, and she gets them ready to play. I know she's not thinking about cancer at all. She thinks about winning, and that's why I respect her."

Indeed, there is nothing coming out of College Park that says the Terps will do anything except come out to try to beat Loyola this afternoon.

And, if you think about it, for a coach as competitive, as dedicated, as alive as Diane Geppi-Aikens, would there be any greater way to honor her than trying to win?

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