Several area college lacrosse coaches are picking defending champion North Carolina or Syracuse to win the NCAA Division I title. The other teams, they say, are simply bidding for a better ranking, and a possible upset of the big two.
The maneuvering for several area teams begins this weekend, with Navy starting its season today at Penn State (2 p.m.), Towson opening tomorrow at home to Delaware (1 p.m.) and Loyola opening tomorrow at Rutgers (2 p.m.).
"Syracuse and North Carolina are extremely talented," said Loyola coach Dave Cottle. "Everybody else is going for the rest of the spots. We have the potential to be a good offensive team, but we're very inexperienced on defense. We'll be as good as our defensive people."
Maryland coach Dick Edell, whose team opened with a 14-5 victory over Franklin & Marshall yesterday, said: "From top to bottom, Syracuse and North Carolina have more talent than anybody else. For the rest of us, it's like that old saying goes, 'On any given Saturday, one team can beat the other.' Syracuse and North Carolina won't have too many of those Saturdays. But in the end, who knows what may happen?"
Loyola is trying to regain the form that took it to the 1990 championship game. The Greyhounds have two of the premier attackmen in the country in junior Kevin Beach and senior Jim Blanding. They also should get steady performance from a veteran-dominated midfield, but only regular Sean Quinn returns a defense that lost three starters.
Navy and Towson might have problems in the attack.
The Mids, after losing four attackmen and honorable mention All-America midfielders John Duthie and John Quinn, will fill most of the holes on offense with plebes.
Towson, runner-up to defending champion North Carolina a year ago, has lost Midfielder of the Year Rob Shek (35 goals), all-time ++ leading scorer Glenn Smith (44 goals) and Michael DeSimone (34 goals). They accounted for almost half of Towson's 244 goals last season. Four other top players are ineligible, three for academic reasons.