The Washington Times - May 3, 2009, 11:19PM

Sometimes history provides a great subplot.

At others, it comes nowhere close.

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This year’s NCAA lacrosse tournament doesn’t offer up too many nuggets courtesy of series history, at least in the first round. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking:

No. 1 VIRGINIA vs. VILLANOVA

Series: Virginia leads 1-0
NCAA series: First meeting
Last meeting: Virginia won 21-6 on Feb. 28, 1993

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. The Cavaliers’ only game ever against Villanova was coach Dom Starsia’s first game in Charlottesville. That was the first of 197 (and counting) victories for the Hall of Famer, and a win in the first round would put Starsia on the precipice of career victory No. 300.

No. 2 SYRACUSE vs. SIENA

Series: First meeting

It’s interesting that the Cuse plays Army, Albany, Binghamton, Colgate, Cornell and Hobart, but the Saints are one of the few upstate teams that don’t regularly dot the schedule (Canisius and Marist are two others). OK, not that interesting, since this is Siena’s first NCAA appearance and there isn’t much to be gained from playing a middling program. But the Saints are one of the best teams to emerge from the MAAC, which means this won’t necessarily be the last time these teams are paired in the NCAA tournament.

No. 3 DUKE vs. NAVY

Series: Navy leads 24-9
NCAA series: First meeting
Last meeting: Duke won 9-4 on March 21, 1999

Duke and Navy met in all but one season from 1946 to 1966, and again from 1989 to 1999. The Blue Devils took the last six meetings, then were dropped from Navy’s schedule when the Mids joined the ECAC (Rutgers took Duke’s mid-March spot). Navy plays Maryland and North Carolina and regularly scrimmages Virginia. This is the one ACC team the Mids aren’t fully familiar with.

No. 4 PRINCETON vs. MASSACHUSETTS

Series: Princeton leads 2-0
NCAA series: Princeton leads 2-0 (1995, 1997)
Last meeting: Princeton won 11-9 in 1997 NCAA quarterfinals

It’s genuinely odd these two teams don’t have more history; both have long-established programs, and both have popped up in plenty of postseasons in the last 20 years. The 1995 game was a first-round matchup at Princeton.

No. 5 CORNELL vs. HOFSTRA

Series: Cornell leads 5-1
NCAA series: First meeting
Last meeting: Cornell won 14-12 in its 2004 season opener

How about a couple more schools with some geographic proximity that are relative strangers. They had a single game in 1972, then played from 1990 to 1992 and again on Long Island in 2003 and 2004.

No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA vs. UMBC

Series: North Carolina leads 17-6
NCAA series: First meeting
Last meeting: North Carolina won 11-5 in 2005

The Tar Heels and Retrievers had a home-and-home from 1998 to 2005, and tripped up the dormant ACC power three times in Catonsville. This has dangerous game written all over it, especially if UMBC can match its level of play from the America East final. It’s the third straight NCAA trip to an ACC school for the Retrievers; they beat Maryland in 2007 and lost narrowly at Virginia last year.

No. 7 NOTRE DAME vs. MARYLAND

Series: Maryland leads 3-0
NCAA series: Maryland leads 1-0 (1995)
Last meeting: Maryland won 9-8 in double-overtime on May 1, 2004

The subplot in this particular game is mind-numbingly easy. Former Fighting Irish attackman (and football player) Will Yeatman has a chance to come back and haunt his former team. Wonder if anyone else will catch on to that fact and write about it this week.

No. 8 JOHNS HOPKINS vs. BROWN

Series: Hopkins leads 9-1
NCAA series: First meeting
Last meeting: Hopkins won 16-11 on April 1, 1980

No great threads spring to mind at this hour, so this is a fine time to wrap up and point out the only way any player on any team in the tournament could be facing a familiar opponent is if UMBC or North Carolina had a fifth-year senior. In fact, the only repeat coaching matchup from the last four years is UMBC’s Don Zimmerman and North Carolina’s (and, previously, Ohio State’s) Joe Breschi.

So, no, the history is a bit bare. But that just adds to the intrigue of some curious first-round games.

Patrick Stevens