Once considered an afterthought, Goucher’s second Landmark Conference Tournament championship and automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament was waylaid by Scranton’s 12-8 upset of the Gophers in the Landmark final last spring.

Since that May 7 loss, Goucher (13-1 overall and 4-0 in the league) has been eagerly awaiting a shot at the Royals (8-4, 2-2), who will visit Gopher Stadium in Towson this Saturday.

“I think there’s been a lot of talk about last year,” coach Kyle Hannan admitted Wednesday. “They took our goal away from us last year. We wanted to win the Landmark title last year, and Scranton came in and played very well and beat us. So I think that adds to the game’s excitement, the opportunity to play them again at home on Saturday.”

In a somewhat stunning turn of events, the Royals are in danger of missing this year’s league tournament altogether. With that 2-2 league record, Scranton is tied with Catholic for fourth place in the Landmark Conference. Another loss and the Royals would be one step closer to sitting out the tournament.

But Hannan did his best to dismiss the revenge theory.

“The way I look at it, I don’t think it’s revenge,” he said. “I think it’s a competitive, rivalry game. That’s how we’re looking at it. I know one thing: if that’s the scenario, then they’re kind of fighting for their lives so to speak, and that’s always a dangerous situation. So that’s probably going to put an even better Scranton on the field than what we would’ve had in a different situation. But there’s still a lot of Landmark games left. Everybody’s playing everybody. So right now, they may be sitting at four, but they can finish at three, they can finish at five. We could finish at two or three or one. So I don’t think either team is looking at where they’re going to be in three weeks.”