“When you subscribe to Inside Lacrosse magazine when you’re a little kid, they always had an issue that had articles about the Hopkins-Maryland game,” said Maryland junior captain Owen Blye, a native of Downington, Pa.
On Saturday night at 6 p.m., the #10 Maryland Terrapins (6-3, 1-2 ACC) will make their first trip to Homewood Field since 2008 to face #3 Johns Hopkins (9-1). It will be the 108th match up between the two lacrosse powerhouses.
Since the NCAA Tournament began, back in 1971, the Blue Jays have the most wins in the tournament, 40, while the Terps have the third most wins, 34.
For senior captain Joe Cummings, who played his high school lacrosse at Loyola Blakefield, less than six miles away from the Blue Jays’ home field, it’s been hard to concentrate on anything other than the game.
“I grew up going to a lot of Hopkins games…To bring home a win would be really cool,” Cummings said.
The last three years, the game was decided by just one goal. In 2009, Hopkins beat Maryland 10-9 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, but Maryland came out on top 10-9 at the same site in 2010.
Hopkins won 12-11 in overtime last year in College Park. The Terps were led by Joe Cummings’ four goals but couldn’t hold on to a 7-2 halftime lead.
Boland was a member of the 2007 National Championship team, the most recent NCAA title for Hopkins. Despite missing the first seven games of the season, he is already the sixth leading scorer on the 2012 squad.
A pair of Canadian attackmen lead the offense for head coach Dave Pietramala, a ‘90 graduate of Johns Hopkins and a former three-time first-team All-American defenseman himself.
Junior Zach Palmer, from Oshawa, Ontario, is first on the team with 34 points, having scored 15 goals and dished out 19 assists. Sophomore Brandon Benn, from Orangeville, Ontario, has netted a team-high 21 goals through the first 10 games.
Bassett allowed just 7.07 goals a game in 2011, fifth-best in the nation. This year he’s even better, holding opponents to 6.69 goals each game, good for fourth-best among Division I lacrosse keepers.
Maryland head coach John Tillman said the tradition between the two schools makes the game important for both teams.
“You have your league games and those are always exciting any time you play in the conference, those [games] take on significance,” Tillman said. “But knowing the history of this game…and how strong the teams have always been, and the passion that the alums have for this game…It’s a rivalry I think everybody around here gets excited about.”
The Terps are coming off a 13-6 win over Navy after dropping two straight conference games and two games against ranked opponents.
Blye knows it needs to impress the committee in order to make the 16-team NCAA tournament field in May.
“This could be a huge win for our season…it’s a quality win going into the seedings for playoffs,” Blye said. “We’re trying to rack up as many wins as we can in that time period to try to accomplish our goals.”
But whenever these two teams play, it’s not about the numbers. It’s about pride.
“It’s one I think both teams mark down at the beginning of the year,” Blye said. “It means bragging rights.”