They call it the War on the Shore, but the lacrosse rivalry between Washington College and Salisbury State usually has been a one-sided fight.
The Shoremen beat Salisbury State 12 straight times from 1982-90. When the Sea Gulls ended that stretch of futility last year, they romped 20-4 against a Washington team torn apart by a drinking incident that ended the season for several players.
On Saturday at 2 p.m., the two meet again in Chestertown, and maybe they'll have another close encounter like the ones taken by Washington in 1983 (11-10) and 1990 (14-12). Both are looking to strengthen their stock for the NCAA Division III tournament, as the Sea Gulls are ranked No. 3 and the Shoremen No. 8.
Despite losing three attackmen who combined for 163 goals and 125 assists, Salisbury State is more experienced than Washington.
The Sea Gulls (10-1) are averaging 17 goals a game, but coach Rick Berkman is raving about a defense that includes goalie Geoff Sanders (Loch Raven), three-year starter Chris Andrews (Towson) and Mike Esham, a junior who was USILA Defenseman of the Year in 1991. Two transfers from Herkimer Community College have strengthened the defense, and sometimes Berkman uses as many as six junior-college products.
The Shoremen are 10-2, after yesterday's 25-9 rout of Haverford (the losses were to Navy and Hobart, which is favored to win its 13th straight Division III title). It's a marked turnaround from 1991's stumble to 3-8.
Coach Terry Corcoran is starting just two upperclassmen, senior Kevin Doyle (Loyola) and junior Scott Overend (St. Mary's), and those defensemen have made life easier for freshman goalie Bill Griffin (Catonsville).
* KNOCKING DOWN DOORS: While Washington and Salisbury State have come to expect berths in the NCAA tournament, the Frostburg State women are on the verge of a spot in the women's Division III field for the first time.
The unbeaten Bobcats (13-0) are ranked No. 4, and the regular season includes two more important games, Saturday against No. 8 Denison and May 3 against top-ranked Trenton State, which has won four of the seven NCAA titles. Trenton State handed Frostburg State its only loss in 1991, when the Bobcats were left out of the NCAA tournament despite a 15-1 record.
Maggie Murphy, a senior who attended Archbishop Spalding, has improved her record for assists in a season to 57. Coach Sharon Irwin, who's in her 23rd year, calls her "irreplaceable."
Linda Moscato (Fallston) leads the Bobcats with 46 goals; Julie Jaeger (Arundel) has 41; sophomore Kathleen Ertel (Mercy) is the No. 4 scorer; and goalie Laura Becker (Mount Hebron) has a .635 percentage on saves.
* THEY CAN PITCH, TOO: UMBC (27-6) took a team batting average of .364, best among the nation's Division I baseball teams, into yesterday's 7-4 victory over James Madison, but the real reason for the Retrievers' gaudy record is improved pitching.
A year ago, UMBC's team ERA was 7.87. It's now 3.95, and a healthier rotation has helped. So has Kevin Loewe, a freshman from Perry Hall who's been working long relief. He has a 4-0 record, and in 22 2/3 innings, he's struck out 29 and walked one (intentional).
The Retrievers lead Towson State by 1 1/2 games in the East Coast Conference, and both are home this weekend for ECC series. UMBC faces Central Connecticut, and the Tigers get Brooklyn.
* FAST LEARNER: She was a pretty good sprinter at Christiana (Del.) High, but Diana Pitts' track and field future with Coppin State lies in the 800 meters.
Pitts was one of the nation's best high school 400 runners, and that's what she concentrated on with the Eagles last year. After attempting just one open 800 this past indoor season, last weekend she set a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship meet record of 2 minutes, 8.56 seconds. The sophomore is one breakthrough from the NCAA qualifying standard, 2:05.50.
* DOTS AND DASHES: Todd Butler, a junior out of Centennial High, has set a Navy record for doubles in a season with 15. . . . Goucher's inaugural season in men's lacrosse ended with a 3-6 record. . . . Navy coach Al Cantello is one of the honorary referees for the Penn Relays. . . . York College's Chip Barlett, a sophomore second baseman from Overlea who hit .433, is on the Capital Athletic Conference All-Star baseball team.