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posted 03.01.2013 at 4.45 p.m. by Mark Macyk

Indiana Tech vs. McKendree Also a High School Reunion

The University of Maryland won’t join the Big Ten until next season, but this weekend a couple of high school teammates from Carroll County will get a head start on giving the Midwest a taste of the Old Line State.

Six years ago, Brittany Poist and Emily Shreeve were teammates at North Carroll High School, 45 minutes north of Baltimore. They went in different directions after that: Poist to Louisville, then Maryland and Team USA, and Shreeve to Trine College, in Angola, Ind. 

On Saturday they’ll share a field again, as rival coaches.

Shreeve is in her first season as head coach at Indiana Tech, in Fort Wayne, last year’s NAIA runner-up. Poist is helming McKendree, a first-year Division II program in Lebanon, Ill., a half hour outside St. Louis.

Poist, who was a year ahead of Shreeve at North Carroll, was hired at McKendree in October, 2011. When Indiana Tech brought in Shreeve this summer, a few weeks after her college graduation, they were on the phone coordinating schedules.

“I remember saying, ‘Shreve, when did this happen? How far away are you?’” Poist said. “‘We have to play each other.’ We were Google mapping. You can’t drive five hours to have a catch, but we’ve had multiple hour-long conversations, just discussing our similar situations. It’s nice to have someone going through the same thing as you.”

Lacrosse is a small world where everyone knows everyone, but two Baltimore-area high school teammates, fresh out of college, coaching opposing teams in a game played close to the Mississippi River? This is a little rare.

“It’s something I would never have seen coming,” Shreeve said. “It’s just funny. It’s kind of ironic.”

Indiana Tech is the more established program. The Warriors reached the NAIA finals last year, before falling to SCAD in triple overtime. This will be McKendree’s second game ever, but they won their opener, 16-1, against Fontbonne. 

Bree Suter, who scored five goals against Fontebonne, grew up down the street from Poist, but most rosters have a distinctly midwestern feel.  Still, Indiana Tech’s players know what’s at stake.

“It’s gonna be a cool game for the girls,” Shreeve said. “I’m not sure if her team knows. My girls know the whole backstory. It’s been an interesting last few days at practice.”

Poist said that, while she wants to beat her friend, it isn’t something her team is focusing on. She’s using the same opponent doesn’t matter approach that Cathy Reese instilled at Maryland.

That doesn’t mean Poist won’t try familiarity at strategy. These are young Midwestern programs. Scouting reports aren’t readily available. There have been times at practice this week, when Poist shows her team something and says, “I know this coach, this is something she likes to do.” Then she remembers they haven’t played together in a half decade and wonders how much things have changed.

“I’m sure she’s saying the same things,” Poist said. “I’m excited to see what kind of style she’s teaching now”

The feeling is mutual.

“Brittany was an outstanding player and always had a leadership mindset. I’m anxious to see what kind of tricks she has up her sleeve. I played at Trine. My tricks are a little less cool than University of Maryland tricks.” 

Both coaches say when the game ends their friendship will be fine, but tempers could flare on the field. In high school they were known for spending bus trips annoying teammates with their ethical debates.

But at the heart of it all they were the same kind of lacrosse player, aggressive on the field, and intensely loyal to teammates. That has carried over as coaches. Poist recently broke her foot in the weight room, but that won’t diminish her intensity.

“She’s gonna see me hopping around the sidelines and she’s gonna laugh at me,” Poist said. “I already know there will be moments when we get heated. But I’m going to be able to give her a hug after the game and say, ‘I wish you could stay, I wish you didn’t have to go back.’ We’re like guys in that way. We can have that intensity and two seconds later be friends and it’s all good.”