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Friday's men's lacrosse game vs. Susquehanna looms as important contest for Goucher

Goucher and Susquehanna are two of three teams crowded in second place in the Landmark Conference with identical 2-1 league records. Scranton is the other program, and all three are chasing newcomer Elizabethtown, which is 3-0 and aiming for the top seed in the Landmark tournament.

So there's good reason for the buildup of anticipation and excitement for Friday's clash between the Gophers (7-3 overall) and the Crusaders (8-3) at Gopher Stadium in Towson at 4 p.m.

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"The top four teams make [the league tournament], and we've always said that every conference game is meaningful," Goucher coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday. "If you lose two, there's a good chance you could be on the outside looking in. If you lose three, that's a very real possibility. So every game is super important because you want to be one of the four that has an opportunity to play for that championship."

The Gophers have qualified for all seven Landmark Conference tournaments, including last spring when they dropped a 9-6 contest to Susquehanna in the tournament final. The players and coaches could use the painful memory of that setback as motivation, but Kelly said that's not the case.

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"We're a completely different team from what we were last year," he said. "… We've got 20-something new guys on our roster. So they don't even know what last year's team was all about. It's squarely on this year and the upcoming opportunity at hand to play a home conference game. If we get a win, we're moving toward a playoff berth. If we get a loss, our backs are squarely up against the wall. It's completely focused on this year and Susquehanna and who they are in 2015 and who Goucher is in 2015."

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