COLLEGE PARK -- Maybe, Dick Edell mused, it is better not to have a first-round bye. Maybe it is better to have that shakedown before the quarterfinals.
Such was the Maryland coach's belief after the seventh-seeded Terps (9-4) disposed of No. 10 Rutgers (7-6), 13-7, yesterday before 1,400 at Denton Field. Maryland will play No. 2 Brown (13-0) in the quarterfinals Sunday at Providence, R.I.
Edell's mind swept back to a few years when the Terps had first-round byes and barely advanced past Penn, 12-8, in 1987 and Adelphi, 12-11 in overtime, in 1989.
"This might be a better route," Edell said. "Playing this extra tournament game might have a benefit. The pressure of having those Sunday quarterfinal games in '87 and '89 when the kids had a long wait before playing was unbelievable."
Some coaches, noting that Brown and Princeton have been near the top in recent weeks, have wondered privately if Ivy League teams are overrated. The question was put to Rutgers coach Tom Hayes, who doesn't have to worry about inflammatory remarks appearing on Ivy League locker room bulletin boards.
"The Ivy League is as strong as anyone else now," Hayes said. "They play tough schedules. When you're 13-0 like Brown, you've got to be good, I don't care who you play."
Maryland hasn't played an Ivy League team since edging Penn in the tournament in 1987, the year before Mark Douglas arrived here. The senior attackman scored a game-high four goals yesterday.
"I'd like to take a look at an Ivy League team," Douglas said in a tone suggesting he looks forward to the confrontation.
Douglas was a handful for Rutgers, just as he was a few weeks ago when he scored five goals in the upset of Johns Hopkins. A 26-year-old who went from Calvert Hall to the Marines for four years and then to Maryland, it is sometimes a matchup of a man against boys.
"He has a quick release and shoots well," said Rutgers goalie John Schmunk. "He's among the top four or five shooters we've faced. When he's left wide open, he has a hard shot."
The Terps put the game away with seven unanswered goals over a stretch from late in the first quarter through a scoreless second to midway through the third. Douglas scored three of those goals.
Maryland defenseman Brian Burlace, who had shut out Johns Hopkins gun Matt Panetta, shackled Rutgers' Steve Luciano. Coming in as the Scarlet Knights' top scorer with 29 goals and 27 assists, Luciano was restricted by Burlace to a pair of assists.
"We're confident Brian will take away the opponent's No. 1 threat," Edell said. "There was never a doubt in our minds he would be super against Luciano."
Rutgers prepared for the game with a testy schedule. The Knights played six teams invited to the tournament, beating Massachusetts and Michigan State and bowing to Loyola, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Syracuse.
"The schedule got us ready to play big games and made us a better team in them," Luciano said.
Rutgers played respectably yesterday. But the Knights were bucking a trend that has brought them only one win in 20 tries against Maryland in a series that began in 1931.