All the elements for a great lacrosse rivalry are there. The two schools are less than two miles apart, and their respective coaches and athletic directors are close friends. One is the model club, the other a recent power. It's Loyola vs. Johns Hopkins. No. 1 against No. 2. Or No. 2 against No. 1, depending on which poll you read.
The schools feel it could draw 7,000 fans. Economically, it's a sound investment for both schools. Realistically, it may not happen this year, but it's a definite for next season.
Barring a postseason matchup, Johns Hopkins (3-0) and Loyola (5-0) won't meet until a regular-season game scheduled for next April. That contest would be the first of a four-game series.
"It would be neat to play them in the playoffs," said Nick Shevillo, a Johns Hopkins senior defender from Bloomfield Hill, Mich. "I know 10-12,000 people would show up for that game between two good lacrosse teams. I mean, I'm a senior, so I don't get a chance to play them next year. But I'll definitely get on a plane and fly in for that game next year."
The last time Johns Hopkins and Loyola met was during the fall of 1989 when Loyola won, 11-10 in overtime. But the two teams have not played each other during the spring season since 1969. Hopkins won that year, 23-4.
As a matter of fact, Johns Hopkins has won all 29 times the teams have faced each other in the spring.
"Actually, who could blame the series for ending? It was the 'Charles Street Massacre,' " said Dave Cottle, now in his 10th season as Loyola's coach
Cottle led the resurgence of Loyola's program. The Greyhounds came close to making the playoffs during three of Cottle's first five years. They succeeded in 1988, going to the quarterfinals. Since then Loyola has participated in post-season play every year, including a 21-9 loss to Syracuse in the 1990 NCAA Division I title game.
"Certainly, they are one of the best five or six teams every year," said Tony Seaman, Johns Hopkins' second-year coach. "It has always been the Johns Hopkins' attitude to play the best. Dave and I agreed a game should be played."
But it took a while for the Blue Jays to get Loyola on the schedule because they were locked into other hometown rivalries, as well as some traditional out-of-state opponents. Johns Hopkins easily plays the toughest schedule in the country.
"We found the extra weekend and everything has worked out," said Bob Scott, the Blue Jays athletic director. "We used to play them but we pretty much dominated them early in the series. Now that has turned around. They have been one of the top three or four teams in the country the last three years."
Johns Hopkins, though, has always set the standard. The Blue Jays have won 42 national championships and seven NCAA tournament titles. But the last time they were ranked No. 1 was in 1989.
"I don't know why it [a game between the two schools] wasn't played; I wasn't here," said Joseph Boylan, Loyola's second-year athletic director and a close friend of Scott's. "But Bob and I both wanted to play this game, and it's good for both schools as well as lacrosse and the area. I've had people asking me about it this week. I'm excited that it's going to be played the next four years."
"It got to the point where it was like Louisville and Kentucky in basketball," said Cottle. "There was more talk about not playing the game than if a game was played. It's great to play them because they are the model team that everyone shoots for."
When the two teams play it will be like looking in a mirror. Cottle and Seaman have been trading strategy secrets since Cottle's first year at Loyola, and Seaman's first at Penn.
"We still go out to lunch and our wives are very good friends," said Seaman. "I remember the first time meeting Dave at dinner when they came to Penn. We've been friends ever since."