Vizcarrondo overcomes bad breaks Collarbone OK, Loyola middie keeps plugging

Lacrosse finals

May 19, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Todd Vizcarrondo surfs ocean waves, not the Internet. He picked up his business degree last week, but he doesn't consider himself a bookworm. He's an active outdoorsman who enjoys deep-sea fishing and mountain biking, and his idea of fun isn't spending two weeks in a recliner.

Like he did in 1995.

And 1996.

Vizcarrondo, a junior midfielder, is among the offensive talents who have lifted Loyola College to the No. 1 seed in the NCAA lacrosse tournament. He won't lead the semifinals at Rutgers on Saturday in goals or assists, just fractures of the clavicle. His freshman season was stopped by a break in his right collarbone, his second by one in the left.

"I've never felt worse for a kid," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "To be honest, I was surprised by how fast he came back each time. After the second injury, there was a time when I thought that he might not play anymore, that maybe his body was not built to play this game."

Vizcarrondo had one goal in Sunday's 12-11 quarterfinal win over Georgetown, but it was a big one. When he gave the Greyhounds a three-goal lead with 10 minutes left, he took a feed from Mike Battista, leaped high and shot, cognizant of the defender who was about to level him.

Cottle doubts that Vizcarrondo could have stayed in that spot two years ago, after his career had been stopped a second time. Vizcarrondo disagrees.

"I would've taken the shot, but I know what you mean," he said. "When I came back from the second injury in 1996, I was definitely a little hesitant.

"I was definitely shook up by that one, but I figured if I recovered from the first injury, I'd be fine after the second one, too. Still, there were times when I was hit a certain way, and had to check myself to see if I was all in one piece."

The notion that Vizcarrondo would give up lacrosse seems laughable, no matter the obstacles he's overcome. It's the only organized sport he's ever played. As a child, he was taxied to Overlea for fall ball, and Perring Racquet Club for box lacrosse. That's easy for a family in northeast Baltimore, but Vizcarrondo is from deep in Anne Arundel County.

There's a lacrosse goal in the front yard of the Vizcarrondo home in Davidsonville. Todd and Greyhounds goalie Jim Brown were among the players who gave St. Mary's High some of its finest moments in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, and both arrived at Loyola in the fall of 1994.

Brown was redshirted, but Vizcarrondo, 6 feet 3 and 183 pounds, made an immediate impact as a freshman. He had 14 goals and nine assists, but the morning after Loyola whipped UMBC, during a one-on-one drill at a light practice, his follow-through was disturbed by a hit from a teammate. His right collarbone was fractured in eight places, his season broken, too.

A year later, the Greyhounds' second game was against North Carolina. On Loyola's first possession, Vizcarrondo was taken down by a legal check. This time, it was a compound fracture to his left collarbone, but mercifully, the break through the skin was hidden by his pads and jersey.

"Joe [Artuso, Loyola's trainer] came out running, and I knew exactly what it was," Vizcarrondo said. "At that point, I said, 'Here we go again.' I didn't want to look at that."

Vizcarrondo had to wear a brace.

Again.

He had to go sit in a recliner for two weeks.

Again.

"With that kind of injury, you can't lie down," Vizcarrondo said. "I'd sleep in a recliner. My mom nursed me through."

Vizcarrondo said he might go into his father William's business, and his blessings also include two mothers. Helen Vizcarrondo died of cancer 11 years ago, and her legacy includes taking Todd to a lacrosse game at Severn School to watch a neighbor. He was hooked. Melanie Vizcarrondo, his second mother, is the one who helped him through his injuries.

He came back strong in 1997, with 20 goals and 14 assists. This season he has 22 and 11, and Vizcarrondo is the middie who moves up to attack on faceoffs. When the Greyhounds win a draw, they get the ball to Vizcarrondo, and he starts the offense.

There is an up side to the injuries. Vizcarrondo got a redshirt year in 1996, and he wants to return to Loyola and play as a graduate student next season.

Final Four

At Rutgers

Saturday's semifinals

No. 5 seed Maryland vs. No. 1 Loyola, noon, ESPN2

No. 2 Princeton vs. No. 3 Syracuse, 45 minutes after first game, ESPN2

Monday's championship, 10: 55 a.m., ESPN

Loyola at a glance

Location: Baltimore

Enrollment: 3,132

Record: 13-1

Coach: Dave Cottle (16th year, 148-61)

Streak: Won 12 straight

NCAA tournament seed: No. 1

Final Four appearance: Second

How the Greyhounds got here: Beat Georgetown, 12-11, in quarterfinals

Tournament record: 8-10

NCAA Division I titles: None

Final Four opponent: Maryland

All-time record vs. the Terrapins: 1-18

Goals leader: Tim O'Shea (39)

Assists: O'Shea and Mike Battista (15)

Ground balls: Jamie Hanford (72)

Faceoffs: Hanford (.672)

Goalkeeper: Jim Brown (.625)

Pub Date: 5/19/98

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