Hopkins goalie doesn't block enthusiasm

Schwartzman loves spotlight on, off field

March 03, 2007|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

Jesse Schwartzman never cared much for being subtle.

On the lacrosse field, where he has guarded the goal for Johns Hopkins since 2005, he lives for the big games, craves the dazzling saves and often is among the more boisterous guys out there. Jawing with opposing attackmen and fans comes naturally to him.

Off the field, Schwartzman loves being the life of the party. In the kitchen, where the political science major indulges another passion, Schwartzman has built a reputation as quite the chef. And his hefty, 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame reveals he's a cook who is not shy about sampling the food.

"[Schwartzman] dances around in the huddle, which is not like me. He jumps up and down in the goal, which is not like me," said Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala, who sometimes catches the senior mugging for the camera in practice.

"When he has to be serious, he is, but Jesse acts like a teenager a lot," he added. "Jesse is fun-loving, happy-go-lucky. I really do enjoy him."

Andrew Schwartzman, Jesse's older brother, who played at Maryland said: "He's not a timid kid. He's got a big personality. If he's going to laugh at something, he's going to laugh loud. If he eats something, he's going to eat a lot of it. He loves to yell and be the center of attention."

There is no doubt about who the director of the No. 8 Blue Jays' defense is this spring. He's the third-year starter who helped Pikesville win a state title as a sophomore, then won the NCAA tournament's Most Outstanding Player award by pushing Hopkins to a national championship as a rookie starter two years ago.

He's the goalie who, after being nudged by Andrew to get in the cage as a fourth-grader to try stopping the shots of the older kids, discovered he had the quick hands for the job and embraced all the welts and bruises that came with it.

He's the guy who excels in those huge games, such as the 20-save day against Virginia in early 2005, or the 21-save gem at Towson that year, or the championship game against Duke, when he allowed only one goal in the second half.

He also beats himself up over the clunkers. Want to wipe the smirk off Schwartzman's face? Mention last week's four-save effort in a season-opening, 8-7 loss to Albany.

"Yes, [the defense] gave up shots in tight. But I was awful," said Schwartzman, who vows to atone for some fundamental lapses in today's clash with rival and top-ranked Princeton - which features reigning NCAA Goalie of the Year Alex Hewit - at M&T Bank Stadium.

"As a goalie, I think you need a swagger and a passion to be successful," he added. "It's natural for me to be loud and emotional. You can't sit back there and be quiet. I might talk a little too much at times, but I have fun in the goal."

And around the oven or grill. Just ask senior long-stick midfielder Brendan Skakandi, one of Schwartzman's close friends. Skakandi raves about the blackened chicken and various seafood dishes his former roommate creates.

"You get excited when he's cooking," Skakandi said. "He knows when stuff should be broiled or fried or seared. He knows his way around the kitchen. I'm a big shrimp guy. He's a big anything guy."

Schwartzman's weight has been a running joke since the day he arrived on the Homewood campus, then rode the bench as a freshman after losing the job to Scott Smith. Part of the reason, Schwartzman acknowledges, was his lack of focus on preparation details, his cockiness, and yes, his conditioning.

He arrived in the fall of his sophomore year trimmer, more driven than ever before, and beat out Smith in late February for the job. Schwartzman started all 16 games of Hopkins' perfect season, led the nation in goals-against average (6.68) and ranked third in save percentage (.626), but was only an honorable mention All-American.

Last year, with a senior-laden defense having graduated, Schwartzman was an honorable mention again, but slipped. He allowed 8.15 goals per game and had a .563 save percentage.

Towson coach Tony Seaman has always viewed Schwartzman as underrated, and expects the senior to assert himself again. The Tigers have yet to really solve the big guy.

"[Schwartzman] takes up a lot of room in there, and that bothers shooters. It makes them try to be too fine," Seaman said. "But he's a big kid with really good hands who makes the saves he should make and now and then makes the one he shouldn't make.

"I think he gets better as the year goes on. He's had the kinds of games you don't forget. He's given me plenty to remember."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

Inside Lacrosse Face-off Classic

What -- Inaugural doubleheader featuring the four schools that have won every Division I men's lacrosse title dating to 1992

Matchups -- No. 8 Johns Hopkins vs. No. 1 Princeton, followed by No. 7 Virginia vs. No. 6 Syracuse

When -- Today -first game, noon; second game, 2:30

Where -- M&T Bank Stadium

Tickets -- $15 for lower-level reserved seat, $25 for club level, $10 for groups of 10 or more

To purchase -- Call 410-261-RAVE or go to www.ticketmaster.com

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