Saturday brings the renewal of arguably the two best rivalries in lacrosse.
In the afternoon in Annapolis, Army visits Navy. Whether it’s basketball or soccer or football or whatever, Army-Navy probably is among its sport’s purest rivalries. Lacrosse is no different.
At night, Johns Hopkins visits Maryland for the 107th renewal of the series.
It’s the first time either rivalry’s regular-season game will be played on campus since 2008, since both games were part of the well-named Day of Rivals at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.
(It should be noted Navy played at Army in the Patriot League final last year).
For Maryland, agreeing to moving its top rivalry off campus was made was out of necessity as much as anything. In 2009, Byrd Stadium was in the midst of suite construction, and half the stadium was a hard-hat zone. The Day of Rivals —- and the two-year commitment to it —- made sense for both fans and finances.
Still, as cool as it was to have it in a pro football stadium (instead of, admittedly, a college football stadium), there was something missing.
Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, a veteran of many Hopkins-Maryland games as a player and coach, agreed having it back on campus was good for everyone involved.
“I think we saw the merit of being part of Army-Navy, and we had a lot of respect for those institutions,” Pietramala said. “To be a part of that pageantry was exciting. That being said, it was nice, but this is a game meant to be played in the campus environment. This is a game the student body wants to see at both places. This is a game kids want to play on their campuses. It’s an advantage for them to play in Byrd on a natural surface, just like it’s advantage for us to be at Homewood in the confines of our own locker room.”
For Saturday, it means a trip to Byrd Stadium. Hopkins has won its last three games against the Terps in College Park and four of the last five meetings between the teams at Byrd.
The teams split their meetings the last two years at M&T Bank Stadium and savored the chance to be part of an unusual doubleheader. Nonetheless, heading back to campus is an appropriate switch at this point.
“This is a game where we tried something different,” Pietramala said. “It was well worth trying and doing. I think it’s gone back to where it belongs.”
—- Patrick Stevens