Loyola senior attackman Kevin Beach has never been matched against Princeton senior defenseman David Morrow. They have passed each other on the field briefly during scrimmages the past two seasons, but never squared off eye-to-eye.
That will change tomorrow.
No. 2-seeded Princeton (12-1) plays host to No. 10 Loyola (8-4) at Palmer Stadium (1 p.m.) in the NCAA Division I quarterfinals, and the Beach vs. Morrow showdown should be one of the greatest games within the game.
"I'd buy a ticket to watch it if it didn't involve me," said Beach. "I'm not saying we're in the class with the Dave Pietramala [Johns Hopkins defenseman] and Gary Gait [Syracuse midfielder] matchup, but it's nice to hear people talking about us."
Beach has 43 goals this season, second best in Loyola history. He has 112 career goals, No. 3 all-time at Loyola, and with 71 career assists -- 13 this season -- his 183 points are the third highest in school history.
He is 6 feet 5, weighs 220 pounds and has a laser shot. Six times this season, Beach has scored four goals in a game, and six goals in two other games, including the 19-8 win over Navy.
Morrow is 6-0 and weighs 180 pounds. He has always matched up with the other team's best attackman. And he usually wins. Last season, Morrow was co-winner of the USILA Defenseman of the Year award.
He's just as good this season.
"I admire his intensity, speed, quickness and leadership ability," said Loyola coach Dave Cottle. "The one thing you know about Princeton is that they will match up Morrow against your best, and he usually takes that guy out of the offense. He's a product of Princeton's system -- well-coached and won't check unless it's a fundamentally sound check."
Beach is on the rebound after a subpar 1992 season when he scored only 18 goals and Loyola lost in the first round of the Division I tournament to Brown, 8-4.
But he met with Cottle last summer, they both agreed to adjust their styles.
No longer was Beach going to try to dominate games, he was just going to get more involved in the flow. He traded in his dodge moves for movement without the ball.
Beach said: "I'm just letting whatever happens, happen. I'm looking for more ways to get off my shot. I know I'm the go-to guy, but the other guys are scoring and taking a lot of pressure off me, especially late in the season."
But Beach has not faced a defenseman with Morrow's speed.
"He's so fast on both ends of the field," said Beach. "He gets real good position and makes you pass. But I may be more of an asset that way, drawing a double team and looking for the open man. You don't have to score a lot of goals to be successful."
Beach presents Morrow with a different challenge. No other college attackman has Beach's size.
"Most of the guys I go against are really quick, but none with his size and intelligence," said Morrow. "He may not be going to the goal, but he's always looking at it. I've got to be in his face the whole time and play my game."
Morrow has a mental highlight film on most of the best attackmen. Mention several players, and he can describe them without hesitation:
* Virginia's Kevin Pehlke: "Whack him. You've got to let him know you are there right away."
* John Hopkins' Brian Piccola: "He is physical and loves going to the goal."
* North Carolina's Steve Speers and John Webster: "Speers is quicker. Webster is faster. Webster is very dangerous on man-up."
Morrow held Pehlke to two assists. Piccola had a goal and two assists. Webster finished with only a goal, and it was off an extra-man situation. Morrow shut out Bucknell's Justin Zackey, the nation's leading scorer, who had 58 goals in 13 games.
Zackey had only one shot.