It will be more than just a clash between No. 1 and No. 2 when North Carolina entertains Johns Hopkins Saturday. It also will be one of the chapter meetings of the lacrosse lodge.
This is true of most lacrosse games. The sport is so small, so regional, that most of the players and coaches know each other.
"There are only two major lacrosse areas, Baltimore and New York," said Brian Voelker. "If you didn't meet a guy when you were in high school, you meet him through friends later."
Take Voelker, for example. A Johns Hopkins senior defenseman and tri-captain, Voelker went to Gilman. There he served as a co-captain in 1987 with another defenseman, Brooks Matthews, who -- Are you ready for this? -- is now a senior defenseman and tri-captain at North Carolina.
"One of my closest friends from high school," Voelker said.
Matthews phoned Voelker on Easter when he was in town after North Carolina's victory at Maryland. They congratulated each other on their teams' victories, discussed family and girlfriends and then:
"See you this week."
Of course, at the chapter meeting of the lodge in Chapel Hill, N.C.
As defensemen, Voelker and Matthews won't meet head-to-head, but Voelker's opponent won't be a stranger, even though Tar Heels attackman Dennis Goldstein is from Stony Brook, N.Y.
Seems Voelker and two teammates, Seth Tierney and Jim Harkin, went to a football game at Duke last fall and spent part of the weekend with Harkin's high school crony -- Dennis Goldstein.
Call it an out-of-season chapter meeting of the lodge.
Hopkins coach Tony Seaman makes it a practice to assign Voelker to the opponent's best attackman. "Our best against their best," is the way he puts it. Goldstein is Carolina's leading scorer.
"We think Voelker is the best defenseman in the country," Seaman said. "He does everything. He's our fastest player by far, has knowledge of the field, finds the open man, knocks passes down, intercepts them and shoots as well as anyone on the team. Two shots this season, two goals."
Last week, Voelker drew Virginia's Kevin Pehlke, who came in with 26 goals in six games. Voelker restricted him to one.
"He took away Pehlke's right hand by overplaying him to that side," Seaman said. "Brian isn't really a takeaway defenseman, although you couldn't prove that Saturday. He took it away from Pehlke four or five times."
Just as he studied Pehlke's moves and tendencies, Voelker is concentrating now on Goldstein's.
"He likes to drive right and then turn left, and vice versa," Voelker said. "I'll try to turn him back and make him play behind the goal."
Voelker began playing lacrosse, and defense, at the age of 9. His strength, then, is that "I don't make a lot of stupid mistakes because I've played a long time."
In view of Seaman's flattering comments about his offensive abilities, however, it's a wonder Voelker doesn't yearn for a transfer to attack.
"No, no," Seaman said. "He's too valuable where he is."
Anyway, Voelker said, "I don't like to get beat on. I'd rather be the one doing the beating."