Bonds of family stretch beyond lacrosse field

Colleges: Brothers Mike and Dan LaMonica - offensive standouts for No. 9 Maryland - have been fine-tuning their teamwork for years.

College Lacrosse

March 08, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Mike and Dan LaMonica make the Maryland offense go, but their chemistry began long before they ever teamed on a lacrosse field.

Mike, a senior, and Dan, a sophomore, never lacked for places to play. Their father, Tom, is a year-round coach at Friends School, where they began their education. His family farm in northern Baltimore County consists of 300 acres that include the Genesee Outdoor Learning Center, where canoeing and rock climbing are on the menu.

The brothers also could hang at the Towson Center, where their mother, Lynda, nurtured a premier women's gymnastics program.

Her allegiance will be tested tomorrow (1 p.m., Ch. 2), when No. 5 Towson goes to No. 9 Maryland. Lynda Filbert - the parents broke up in the early 1990s and both remarried - will walk into Byrd Stadium sporting Towson sweat pants and a Maryland sweat shirt.

Her boys have been known to make fashion statements of their own, like showing up at the team house in a fright wig. This week Dan dyed his hair blond. They were raised by coaching parents, played football and wrestled, but don't define these free spirits solely as jocks. Mike will wait on SportsCenter if he knows "Top Plays" are coming up, but they aren't ones to sit through commercials, or sit still, period.

"I don't really like sports," said Dan, who brought Bodhi, his 10-week-old Siberian husky, to an interview. "Rather than watch something on TV, I'd rather be outdoors or go to the movies, listen to music."

The LaMonicas know their way around a working farm and the lacrosse world.

In the summer of 1999, they helped the United States to the under-19 world championship in Adelaide, Australia. Seeking stronger competition than Friends faced in the MIAA B Conference, they moved to Calvert Hall and teamed there in 1997. Dan transferred to Boys' Latin, where he thought he would better fit in, so the two went against each other in 1998.

Mike broke an arm that season, but he's accustomed to playing hurt and shouldering a heavy load. First-year Maryland coach Dave Cottle keeps his best players on the field, so the older LaMonica and Mike Mollot alternate between attack and midfield.

"That's difficult if you run a lot of sets and plays," Cottle said. "You have to learn the offense from the midfield and attack perspective. Add the changes in the way we play [transition] defense, and it's a lot to pick up."

Mike is one of the Terps' captains, a quiet leader who will take a younger player aside if he isn't giving his all. Dan, a gifted attackman, has been accused of coasting through games, but Cottle said it's not the big brother's place to have that heart-to-heart discussion.

"I'm waiting for the moment when Dan combines his athletic ability with hard work," Cottle said. "When he does, the sky's the limit. He's got great feet, great hands, great eyes. He picks things up, and understands things that other players don't. He gets frustrated when things don't go his way, but all young players do that when they don't get the ball as much as they did in high school."

Dan's college debut season produced 25 goals and a team-high 26 assists. Mike had 44 goals to show for his first three college seasons. Thus far, they've combined for six goals and six assists, but both are antsy after a 9-8 loss at Duke in which the Terps shot 0-for-12 in overtime. With the number of at-large bids to the NCAA tournament shrinking by two, the LaMonicas know that tomorrow's game is bigger than their family ties.

"This is my last year," said Mike. "I feel the same as every senior. I don't have many games left."

It's one their parents wouldn't miss.

"People have this vision of Danny sucking his thumb, holding hands with one of the girls after a meet," said Lynda Filbert, who assists her husband, Dick, on the coaching staff of the Tigers' women's gymnastics team. "I love Towson, and I want Towson to do well. I always root against Maryland in everything when it comes to competing with Towson. I try to remain neutral as far as the audience and my boss go, but the kids know who I'm rooting for."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.