For the 23rd time tomorrow, Salisbury State and Washington College will renew a Division III men's lacrosse rivalry billed as the "War on the Shore."
Never was that title more appropriate than in May 1993, when the teams engaged in a postgame brawl at Sea Gull Stadium after Washington upset Salisbury in the NCAA tournament. But everything that has happened since then suggests tomorrow's game will not be much of a contest.
Salisbury State won its first Division III title last year and has yet to lose a game this season. The Sea Gulls (10-0), who beat Washington by 18 goals in last year's NCAA quarterfinals, have won 26 consecutive games and have been the nation's top-ranked Division III team all season. They are averaging 24.2 goals, while surrendering 6.0.
Washington is rebuilding under first-year coach John Haus, and has suffered through a 3-7 season. The Shoremen start six freshmen and have averaged barely nine goals.
"I knew what I was coming into. We lost six All-Americans and 170 goals to graduation. I knew I'd have my hands full," said Haus, 33, who spent the previous seven seasons as a Johns Hopkins assistant.
"We only have 25 kids, and sometimes we go against teams with 45. I don't think our freshmen realize what's in front of them. They [Salisbury] go into every game with confidence, not just that they're going to win, but by how many goals? And rightfully so."
The Shoremen, who have lost three games by two goals or fewer, have been admirable on defense, where they have given up 9.5 goals per game. Junior attackman Bart Jaeger, with 16 goals and 12 assists, leads them in scoring. The Sea Gulls have four players who have produced more.
All of which means nothing to Salisbury State coach Jim Berkman.
"Of the four [regular-season] games remaining, it's safe to say I don't have to get them up for [tomorrow]," Berkman said. "This game has too much history, too many deep roots and hidden plots that have surfaced over the years. It's a very intense rivalry."
Washington leads the series, 15-7. The Sea Gulls, despite the loss of attackman and second-leading scorer Sean Radebaugh -- he fractured his right hand in last week's 21-8 victory over Division II Adelphi and may not play until next month's NCAA tournament -- should have no trouble narrowing that margin.
Loyola's women's team, picked to finish in the middle of the Colonial Athletic Association after losing nine starters from the best team in school history, has refused to go away.
The Greyhounds take a 9-4 record into this weekend's CAA tournament as a fourth seed, having finished the regular season in a second-place tie (5-2) with Old Dominion. They have won three overtime games and have lost three decisions by one goal.
Maybe one reason for Loyola's tenacity is the example being set by coach Diane Aikens, who continues to make a remarkable recovery from surgery she underwent last month to remove a benign brain tumor.
Aikens, who has watched the last two Loyola games on the sidelines, could be coaching the Greyhounds again if they make the NCAA tournament, which begins in three weeks. Loyola probably needs to win the CAA tournamen and beat Maryland on Tuesday to make the NCAAs.
In 23 previous seasons, Goucher's women's team had never won more than seven games. With two games left this season, the Gophers (10-1) already have posted the best season in school history, thanks to a 10-game winning streak and the enormous difference two players have made this spring.
Junior Courtney Crangi spent last season watching Goucher finish 5-7 after she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee during the preseason. The knee is just fine this spring, and Crangi has recorded an incredible 53 goals and 33 assists in 11 games. She has 32 goals and 19 assists in her last four games.
And freshman Kristin Carey (Towson) needed no time to fit in at the collegiate level. She has scored 51 goals and added 14 assists.