Neither team is looking past Saturday's semifinals, but local soccer could use a Towson State-UMBC matchup in the East Coast Conference championship game Sunday.
The ECC postseason tournament will be held at UMBC. Saturday's semifinals pit the top-seeded Retrievers (15-4-1) against Rider (8-6-2) at 11 a.m., and two-time champion Towson State (12-4-3) against Buffalo (10-5-2) at 2 p.m. The title game is Sunday at 1.
It might never duplicate the fervor produced when the rivalry between Loyola and the University of Baltimore climaxed in the mid-1970s with both winning NCAA Division II titles, but Towson State and UMBC are getting awfully familiar.
When Pete Caringi, UMBC's first-year coach, guided the Maryland Bays to the American Professional Soccer League title in 1990, he was assisted by Frank Olszewski, the Towson State coach. One of the Tigers assistants is Frank Assaro, who played for Caringi at Essex Community College. Eight of UMBC's starters and seven of Towson State's are from Maryland.
"When I played [for the University of Baltimore] against Loyola, all 22 of the starters were from East Baltimore," Caringi said. "Charlie Myers was from Overlea and Dale Rothe was from Dundalk, and that's as far as you went.
"The players are more spread out now, but they still know each other. Both of us use players from the MSA, Columbia, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Prince George's County. It has the makings of another good rivalry."
Up until last year, when UMBC joined the ECC, the two were on different wavelengths. UMBC owned the Tigers in the late 1970s, but Towson State was 5-1-1 in the series from 1982-90. UMBC took this year's regular-season match by a 3-1 score. Both have tied school records for wins in a season, and are clearly on the upswing.
One more link: Both were dropped from Loyola's schedule this year. "We're the only Division I teams in Baltimore that play each other," Olszewski said.
* Towson State and UMBC share the No. 8 spot in this week's South Atlantic soccer rankings with Navy, which has made the most of its first year in the Patriot League, earning the home-field advantage for the postseason tournament.
In Saturday's semifinals at Dewey Field, second-seeded Lehigh and Lafayette meet at 11 a.m., and Navy plays Army at 1:30 p.m. Lehigh is coached by Dundalk native John McCloskey, and he's gotten a good season from Elliott Waller, a junior back out of Boys' Latin.
In other postseason play, Maryland faces an uphill climb in the ACC tournament at North Carolina. Frostburg State (16-1-1) was denied a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, but accepted an invitation to the ECAC South Tournament. If the Bobcats win at Wilkes (Pa.), Saturday, they'll host the winner of Gettysburg/Mary Washington Sunday.
On the junior college front, the championship game of the Region XX tournament will be held Sunday (6 p.m.) at Catonsville.
* It's one thing playing tough teams. It's another to get them in a foul mood.
On Saturday (1:30 p.m.) at Hughes Stadium, Morgan State plays Western Illinois, ranked No. 16 in Division I-AA football. The Fighting Leathernecks (6-2-1) were No. 12 before dropping a 7-6 squeaker last week to Indiana State, their first loss in the 'N Gateway Conference, one of the nation's premier I-AA leagues.
Morgan State is 0-9, and this is the fifth time in its last seven games the opposition will be coming off a loss. The other two games were against No. 4 Northern Iowa (7-1) and South Carolina State (6-2).
"Why does this keep happening?" first-year coach Ricky Diggs said. "We're struggling enough as it is, and we keep running into quality teams that are also mad."
* Bowie State (3-5) finishes its football season Saturday (1 p.m.) against Central Connecticut. The Blue Devils (1-6-1) are struggling, but coach Mike McGlinchey figures to have them ready for his first game in Maryland since 1986.
McGlinchey was the Salisbury State head coach from 1982-86, going 44-11-1. His last Sea Gulls team went 13-1, losing only in the NCAA Division III championship game. He hasn't had as much success at Central Connecticut, where his five-year mark is 18-31-4.
* For the eighth straight year, Salisbury State is one of 16 teams in the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament. The Sea Gulls begin regional play tomorrow with a noon game against Messiah at Trenton State. The host team, NCAA champs in 1988 and '90, plays Mary Washington in the other region semifinal. The final is Saturday at 2 p.m.
Cheryl Ish, a senior from Hamburg, N.J., who also plays basketball and lacrosse and runs track and field for the Sea Gulls, has 23 goals, 59 for her career.
* When Towson State's Vikki Benhardt (Loch Raven) won the ECC cross country championship, it was her first title since the state high school 3A race in 1988, when she was The Evening Sun Runner of the Year . . . UMBC's Scott Elwood, a junior from Edgewood who finished fifth, was the top local in the ECC men's race . . . Loyola is seeded second in the MAAC volleyball tournament at Fairfield, Conn.