- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 14, 2007

The only lingering question about last year’s unbeaten national champion Virginia lacrosse team is how it would have fared against Duke had the Blue Devils’ season not been cut short by a rape investigation.

It will remain a mystery, but at least the No. 2 Cavaliers (10-1, 2-0 ACC) and the No. 4 Blue Devils (9-2, 2-0) finally will meet again this afternoon in Durham, N.C.

“I’ve been looking forward to that game since last year,” Virginia attackman Garrett Billings said. “Duke is one of the teams I wanted to play a lot. Maybe the most, actually, so I’m really excited for this game.”

The game itself is intriguing, with two of the most potent offenses meeting for the first time in two years. It is also Duke’s first game since all charges were dropped against three former players caught in the center of last year’s maelstrom. The ACC regular season title is at stake, and today also could influence NCAA tournament seeding.

There’s also the teams’ last meeting, a 17-2 Duke rout in 2005 of a Virginia team that later nearly made the national title game.

“I think if you throw it in a pot and stir it all up, I have no idea how this is all going to play out,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “There’s not a single piece of this that sort of dominates anybody’s thinking. There’s so many different directions you can be pulled … so many subplots. It’s almost like the lacrosse game is kind of a sidebar.”

Rivalry weekend

Two of the nation’s best rivalries will unfold within less than an hour’s drive today.

No. 8 Navy (8-2) plays host to Army (6-4), and a victory would secure a perfect Patriot League record and end a two-game skid. But there’s more at stake for the Midshipmen.

“It’s life or death,” Navy coach Richie Meade deadpanned after his team’s loss to Maryland last week. “Playing against Army is not like anything. It’s not like what we went through [against Maryland]. It’s not anything you can explain.”

Navy has won 11 straight against Army — the longest streak by either team in the series — and has not lost to the Black Knights since 1997.

“I’m the only person in our organization that’s ever lost an Army-Navy game. … There’s only one outcome that’s acceptable,” Meade said. “We won’t be sitting here [today] talking about what a great game we played but coming up short. That’s not an option.”

There will be an equally tantalizing matchup tonight at Byrd Stadium when No. 7 Maryland (8-3) meets No. 10 Johns Hopkins (4-4) for the 103rd time. The Terrapins ripped the Blue Jays last year and are seeking back-to-back wins in the series for the first time since 1995-96.

Meanwhile, Hopkins is on its first three-game losing streak since 1990 and is in danger of falling under .500 nine games into the season for the first time since 1971.

Urick hits 300

One way or the other, Georgetown coach Dave Urick earned his 300th career victory in the last week.

If you count a forfeit against Duke last year, Urick reached the milestone last week against Fairfield. If not, as the NCAA did not when it included team records in last year’s tournament bracket, he picked up No. 300 Tuesday against Mount St. Mary’s.

Either way, Urick has the No. 6 Hoyas (7-2, 3-0 ECAC) on track for their 11th straight NCAA tournament berth entering today’s meeting with No. 12 Loyola (5-3, 3-1) at Multi-Sport Field.

Urick also won 10 Division III titles at Hobart, but he was hard-pressed to pick a victory that stood out among all the others.

“Not any one more than the other,” Urick said. “I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, let alone all those games.”

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