No one would accuse Skip Lichtfuss of being a shrinking violet.
"Give me two or three days to prepare for any team in the world and we'll beat them," Lichtfuss said.
Lichtfuss is the coach of Mount Washington, which will play Brine of Boston for the U.S. Club Lacrosse Association Championship in the Hall of Fame Lacrosse Classic tonight at 7:30 at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.
Lichtfuss has been talking this way for years, and not without reason. Mount Washington has been in the USCLA championship four of the past five years and has won two of the past three.
In 1986, the Mount played exhibitions against Canada, Australia and England before the World Games in Toronto and beat all three.
"The U.S. wouldn't play us," Lichtfuss said. "And that was in 1986, when we were only three-quarters as good as we are now."
Mount Washington has 11 players among the 120 candidates who will compete next weekend at Rutgers for the 26 spots on the U.S. team that will play in the World Championships in July 1993. One of the 11 is Dave Pietramala, the best defenseman in the game.
The Mount also has the Canadian twins, Gary and Paul Gait, who will play for their native country in the World Championships.
"If you poll lacrosse people about the best player in the game, just about everybody would name one of the Gaits or Pietramala," Lichtfuss said. "Remember the 1989 NCAA championship game, Syracuse against Johns Hopkins? In the last minute, Pietramala took the ball away from Gary.
"These guys, all three, are better now than they were then. People forget that lacrosse life doesn't end when college is over. Players peak at 25, 26."
In addition to Pietramala, the Mount's U.S. team candidates are Mike Morrill, Brian Voelker and Brendan Kelly (Johns Hopkins), Jeff Klozden (Cortland State), Todd Curry (Syracuse), Rob Shek, John Blatchley and Ron Klausner (Towson State), Matt Wilson (Washington College) and Butch Marino (Delaware).
Brine also has 11 U.S. team candidates, although no three are the equal of the Gaits and Pietramala. Brine's 11: Tim Soudan, Tom Carmean, Glen Stephens and Scott Hiller (Massachusetts), Joe Breschi and Dennis Goldstein (North Carolina), Roddy Marino and Steve Byrne (Virginia), Toby Boucher (Ohio Wesleyan), Charlie Toomey (Loyola) and Todd Francis (Cornell).
Tonight's matchups are intriguing. Attackmen Marino, Goldstein, Carmean and Hiller will be working against defensemen Pietramala, Voelker, Klozden, Wilson and Klausner.
"Defense is our strength," said Lichtfuss. "We averaged 21-plus goals and allowed seven-plus against pretty good competition. Against Maryland LC, which is better than pretty good, we held them to seven. That's defense."