PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- It's the intrastate rivalry that isn't.
When top-seeded Loyola plays No. 5 Maryland at noon today, it will mark only the second meeting in nearly four decades. The lone game in that 39-year period between the schools, which sit just 32 miles apart, occurred in 1989, when the Greyhounds downed the Terrapins, 10-8.
It marked Loyola's first win in the 19-game history of the series, ending an 18-game skid that spanned 1940 to '59. However, the Greyhounds aren't the ones ducking the matchup.
When asked why this contest isn't scheduled, Loyola coach Dave Cottle said, "You have to ask [Maryland coach Dick] Edell. We would like to play this game. We're building a program obviously and would like to find out where we stand with good teams and good programs."
But Maryland has its reasons.
"Our strength of schedule is strong enough right now," said Edell, whose Terps played seven games against tournament teams this season. "It's something that might happen up the road. We haven't really sensed the necessity to put it on our schedule yet."
Syracuse revealed its hand, but Princeton still has its best poker face showing. It's the starting goalkeeper issue, which has been the primary topic of discussion for a game pitting schools that have combined to win nine of the past 10 national titles.
The third-seeded Orangemen opted to stick with starter Jason Gebhardt even though backup Rob Mulligan outplayed him in last week's quarterfinal victory against Virginia.
"Jason will have a shorter leash than the last time, but he'll start," Syracuse coach Roy Simmons said.
Second-seeded Princeton wouldn't divulge who will start between starter Corey Popham and backup Trevor Tierney. Paralleling the Syracuse situation, Popham struggled against Duke last week before Tierney stepped in to contain the Blue Devils.
"I have made a decision but I'm not ready to say," Tigers coach Bill Tierney said yesterday. "I'm not big on keeping secrets. But we haven't told the kids yet."
Rutgers good for Loyola
This is the first time Rutgers has served as host of the final four since 1990. It's also the first and only final four appearance for Loyola in that same stretch as well.
"We're excited to be back at Rutgers," Cottle said. "We didn't think it would take eight years to make it back here."
For most of the season, Simmons has complained that senior attackman Casey Powell, last year's Player of the Year, has become the target for brutal and late illegal hits. But he doesn't believe he has to worry about that today against Princeton.
After this weekend, Powell will play for the U.S. National team, which will play in the World Championships this July and is coached by none other than Princeton coach Tierney.
Nice change for Terps
Maryland has played in three of the past four final fours, but this is the Terrapins' first appearance in that span outside of Byrd Stadium. And since Maryland has yet to win a title in 23 years, Rutgers might be a nice change of venue.
"It's very similar to an away game," senior defenseman Mike Bonanni said. "We get a chance to get away from all the distractions of being at home. We're secluded and isolated here. We don't have the phones ringing off the hook from friends and families for ticket requests."
Something to prove
Loyola is the only semifinalist without a national title. So even as top seed, the Greyhounds still hear they're an underdog.
"It hasn't felt like we've been the No. 1 seed," Loyola defenseman Jamie Hanford said. "It seems like people don't expect us to win. It's kind of annoying but we have to prove it."
Pub Date: 5/23/98