FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Lacrosse players might feel as if they’re part of a brotherhood, but in the case of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship, many of them literally are.
Like the Sawyer brothers who play for Loyola. Or the Turris brothers who play for Duke. Maryland has the Berhardts and the Coopers. Then there are the Haus brothers, Will on Duke’s team and John on Maryland’s. The Dobsons also square off Saturday, Phil for Loyola and Devon for Notre Dame. Matt Miller of Notre Dame can only play his brother David here if both teams win Saturday. But it goes on and on, the family ties that bind in this sport.
It doesn’t end with brothers, of course. For example, John Haus is the head coach at Lebanon Valley College. His son, John, is a junior midfielder for Maryland, while his other son, Will, is a freshman attacker for Duke. The play in the first national semifinal Saturday.
“Me and Will have always been really close, being only two years apart. Everything we’ve done since been young we’ve done together. We always played on the same team,” John Haus said.
“This year’s definitely been a little different playing against him. This one is just so much more magnified, being in a final four. The first two were definitely important, but this one you lose and you go home so it’s that much more important.”
The younger Haus considered Maryland.
“I did, but I thought Duke was a better fit and once I committed to Duke I became a Duke fan. I still cheered for my brother and want him to do well.”
Normally they talk a few times a week. Not when there’s a game coming up.
“He plays offensive midfield and I play defensive midfield so I’ll get matched up on him occasionally,” Will said. “On the field it’s pretty different. We’re both pretty competitive and neither us want to lose.”
Duke brothers Justin, a redshirt senior, and Kyle, a freshman, Turri are from West Islip, N.Y., where their father, Bill, is an assistant coach at their high school. Of course, it doesn’t end there: Their uncle, Ralph, played lacrosse and football at Bucknell, their uncle Tim played at at Cornell and Bill played at Penn State
“We’ve had a couple of sets of brothers at Duke,” senior Justin Turri said. “My freshman year my roommate was Kevin Young and his twin brother Ryan played at Maryland and his older brother Mike was a senior on the team when we were freshman. The Tkacs, Chris and Joe, came through Duke, Charlie Payton is on the team and his older brother came through Duke.”
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More than that, Sam Payton was the captain of Duke’s 2010 national championship team.
“It’s a small world. Tight knit,” Turri continued, nodding to his brother, “because when he came here and saw Duke I think he immediately wanted to come here. It’s familiar, it’s a great place to be and that’s why I think we had so many brothers come through.”
Maryland’s Kevin Cooper, a midfielder, said he has “like 10 to 15 younger cousins who play lacrosse.”
The Cooper brothers are from Crofton, Md., and said there was never any doubt they would be Terrapins.
“When I was getting recruited here (former Maryland coach Dave Cottle) always said they always loved brothers. Curtis (Holmes) has had two older brothers play here (Travis and Bryn), obviously the Bernharts, and you’ve got John who was my roommate my freshman year and you have his brother Will on the other team. It’s just a tight-knit sports almost like a fraternity. So it’s normal to have brothers playing together.”
Brian Cooper plays close defense, the last line in front of the goal.
“We played together all through high school and this is pretty nice,” Brian said. “To get to the final four and play with him is pretty awesome.”
Maryland also has the Bernhardts of Longwood, Fla. Senior Jake Bernhardt, the team captain who was injured in February, is redshirting this season. Junior Jesse was named ACC co-defensive player of the year.
Loyola has the Sawyers, Mike, a junior, and Matt, a sophomore. They’re from Waxhaw, N.C. Matt was also a top football recruit as a strong safety.
“It meant a lot to have your brother there,” Mike said. “There’s the family aspect, but we spend more time as friends than brothers. But it’s nice to have family there.”
That’s not unusual at Loyola, where coach Charley Toomey’s brother, Chris, was a player at Randolph-Macon and now is the Loyola team dentist.
“And it’s great for us, because the littlest Sawyer (Nick) has committed to us and he’s going to be coming as well,” Toomey said.
Will Corrigan, a freshman midfielder for Notre Dame, is the son of ND coach Kevin Corrigan. And his grandfather Gene is the former ND AD who played lacrosse at Duke.
Remember the Millers of Warrenton, Va., one who plays for Notre Dame and one for Maryland? Their mother, Nancy, played lacrosse at Lynchburg. And Duke’s CJ Costabile, a senior from New Fairfield, Conn., has a younger brother, Nick, who is a back-up goalie for Cortland. Cortland plays in the Division III final Sunday against Salisbury.
Maryland coach John Tillman understands the conflicts that the parents of the Haus and Millers have, so he appreciates them all being in one place this weekend, acknowledging that half of their families will have to be unhappy when it’s over.
“I think it’s a great problem to have and what a great experience,” Tillman said. “I’m sure during the season they’re trying figure out how to get to one game versus the other, so this is pretty neat and a nice problem to have.”