NCAA Lacrosse; The spectrum of Maryland

e-mail Pete

The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tourney kicks off tomorrow. Nobody would call this a banner season for Maryland programs. Not one minute was spent at the top of the polls for any of the state schools. But what the state lacked in supremacy it dominated with depth. Six schools from Maryland earned berths to field. That’s six out of 16.

Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Navy, Towson, Loyola, and UMBC continue their seasons looking for a title. A group that spans the complete spectrum of tourney success.

The Blue Jays make the post season for the 36th consecutive years. I’m not sure I’ve ever brushed my teeth 36 straight days. For a little more perspective that fortunately lacks any references to bad hygiene, the next best streak belongs to Georgetown at 11. Another nugget to impress about the Jays, they’ve not only played in the tournament the last 11 years, they’ve earned a top four seed in each as well. Now that’s a dominant program.

Johns Hopkins opens up with tradition poor Notre Dame at Homewood Field. It’s a safe bet to pencil the Jays into the 2nd round. At least for head coach Davie Pietramala’s sake I hope so.

I talked with the only coach to ever win a championship as player and coach at the same school about this year’s tourney and you could see the weariness on his face. At some point I’m sure Pietramala sits back and enjoys his job. But only after he reaches at least the semi finals. With the Final Four returning to Baltimore, the pressure for Hopkins to play at M&T Bank Stadium on Memorial Day weekend grows with each day. Dave’s job includes far more than most. Reaching the tourney, not enough. Winning a game, not enough. The Final Four is acceptable, but really, only a title will due at Hopkins.

I don’t feel sorry of Pietramala. He knows exactly what is expected of him and of course wants to win more than any other human I’ve ever known. That said, you could see the weight of decades of tradition struggling to balance on his shoulders.

Just south of the beltway, UMBC preps for a rematch with Maryland. A little different atmosphere in Catonsville as the Retrievers own no such playoff history. In fact they own almost no playoff history, at least none worth bragging about. Three prior trips to the big dance but no victories. The energy though is that of complete possibility. They believe they’ll win on Sunday and leave their mark on the school’s history books.

I’d be very happy for UMBC Sports Information Director Steve Levy. For 21 years he has worked tirelessly to provide information and access to the media. Always a class act, it was clear talking with Steve what a win would mean to him and the program.

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