Saturday, April 11, 2009

Johns Hopkins-Maryland: The Greatest Lacrosse Rivalry

These two schools are the perfect rivals. A small private school in the heart of Baltimore and a large public school near the D.C. area. These two institutions do not like each other at all. In earlier days students from each campus would attack the other with pranks. In the former era of athletics, these two squads used to play numerous games of all kinds against each other, but now, Maryland mainly plays Division I sports and Hopkins normally plays Division III. There is only one sport where these schools both have powerhouse programs, and everything is put on the line, on the lacrosse field, creating the best rivalry the sport has.

Today, these two will write the next chapter in the Hopkins-Maryland series at M&T Bank Stadium for the Smartlink Day of Rivals at 2:00 PM, the second game after another big rivalry game, Army-Navy.

To give you an idea on how deep this rivalry is, the two sides don't even agree on the series record. Johns Hopkins says the record has them ahead 66-37-1. But Maryland says some of the first games do not count on the official record because lacrosse was not an official sport yet, so they have the record with Hopkins ahead 57-37-1. The Blue Jays have won six out of the last seven contests.

Both have traditions that just ask for trouble from the other during games. Hopkins always brings a band to games, playing a fight song which counts each goal they score, then yelling "We Want More!" Maryland has a tradition too, leading their entrance with the Maryland state flag, signaling they represent the best team in the state.

To add, the current climate of the teams is not good either. Hopkins, 4-4 and ranked #9, is coming off a win against Albany after losing their previous three contests. Maryland, 6-4 and ranked #13, has lost their last two games against Virginia and Navy, the latter being a six-goal defeat. Both teams are struggling and will need a victory to have a decent tournament resume.

This contest will mainly be decided if the Hopkins defense can hold off the Maryland offense. Neither has played to their potential this season but both have the ability to be dominating. For Maryland, their attack core, expected to be a dominant force of talent, has not been as effective as predicted, partially due to a senior midfield not doing enough. Hopkins is relying on a number of new players on the longpoles and are having trouble sealing the deal. Maryland's big attacks Grant Catalino and Will Yeatman will be tested against the the Blue Jays defenseman Michael Evans and goalkeeper Michael Gvozden. On the other side, attacks Kyle Wharton and Chris Boland will lead the Blue Jay attack against Terps longpole Max Schmidt and the two-goalie system, which will probably have Brian Phipps starting since Jason Carter played the whole game against Navy.

To add, in a rivalry game, anything can happen. Hopkins is looking for their 67th win in the official series while Maryland is looking to avoid getting their 58th loss in the same official series.

(Photo credit: Maryland athletics (Reynolds), Press Box (Gvozden)

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