- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2006

The Maryland-Duke lacrosse rivalry will have an added flair today when the No. 2 Terrapins visit the top-ranked Blue Devils.

Not that anyone is paying attention to polls this early in the year.

“They’re 1. Are we 2?” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said earlier this week. “It’s the first I’ve heard. Then it must be important.”

The Terps ripped Georgetown 10-4 in their season opener last weekend and leaped over Johns Hopkins in the rankings. That set up the meeting between the top two, though it might be too early in the season for the game to be much more than a tough conference game.

“I wouldn’t read too much into it because it’s only our second actual game, but it will definitely show that we’re going out this year strong,” Maryland defenseman Steve Whittenberg said. “It’s probably an indication of how powerful either team is going to be.”

Duke (3-0) brought back all but one starter from a team that lost by a goal in the national title game last Memorial Day. The Blue Devils took two of three meetings from the Terps last year, falling in the ACC final before rolling to an NCAA semifinal victory less than a month later.

Those memories probably will fuel a rivalry that typically produces tight, physical games.

“If it’s 1 vs. 2 or 21 vs. 22, with the Maryland-Duke game for the last 16 years, all that other stuff is meaningless,” Duke coach Mike Pressler said. “It’s a very, very competitive game.”

Patience in Queens — St. John’s coach Rick Sowell is often reminded by his former boss, Georgetown coach Dave Urick, that building a program is a marathon and not a sprint.

It’s good advice for a coach in his second year at a program that had been shelved for a decade. It doesn’t mean Sowell, whose Red Storm (1-0) visit Urick’s No. 10 Hoyas (0-1) today in the ECAC opener for both teams, is the patient sort.

“I’m not very good at it, I’m horrible at it,” said Sowell, whose team went 2-11 last spring. “What we’re doing requires patience, and I’m an impatient type of guy. Looking at the big picture, we know we’re a couple years away from where we hope to be at.”

The Red Storm probably couldn’t be in more capable hands. Sowell helped turn around Georgetown as an assistant in the 1990s before taking the top job at Dartmouth and taking the Big Green to an Ivy League title in 2003. He already has secured two solid recruiting classes at St. John’s, though postseason contention is still probably a few years away.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t compete or we can’t win. You never know what can happen, especially if teams take you light,” Sowell said. “We play the games to win. This is a process.

“Having gone through it at Georgetown and Dartmouth, it takes time. The reality of it all is, it’s going to take time.”

An A for Poskay — Virginia’s Matt Poskay earned an assist in the Cavaliers’ 21-4 rout of VMI on Tuesday, something that for most players wouldn’t be noteworthy.

Poskay, though, had 29 goals and no assists last year, a statistical oddity for a starting midfielder on a final four team. It received plenty of attention at the end of last season, and Virginia coach Dom Starsia joked last month he might stop the game when Poskay picked up his first assist.

“Wonders never cease,” Starsia said. “I didn’t realize it until after he sat down. When they announced it, he gave me a wry little grin. I have given him eons of [stuff] about it every day. He’ll miss a shot in practice and I’ll say ‘You should have passed.’ ”

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