Zerrlaut, Evans reduce Duke's Big 2 to 3 points

Johns Hopkins pair limits Greer, Danowski to one goal, two assists

Notebook

Ncaa Lacrosse

May 29, 2007|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun reporter

Zack Greer had six goals and Matt Danowski collected four assists April 7, when Duke beat Johns Hopkins, 11-9, at Homewood Field.

They were half of the All-America attack, and both made the NCAA all-tournament team, but not because of anything they did in Round 2 against the Blue Jays yesterday.

The Hopkins heroes in the NCAA title game included Eric Zerrlaut, a fourth-year junior out of St. Mary's who limited Greer to an assist, and Michael Evans, a sophomore out of South River High who restricted Danowski to an assist and a goal, which came on a one-on-one in transition.

"We really needed to focus on Greer. He killed us last time," Evans said. "We wanted Eric to stay on Greer, and let me take Danowski one-on-one."

Zerrlaut actually had a simpler game plan to execute.

"During the regular-season game, we were sliding off of Greer like it was no big deal," Zerrlaut said. "Today, I didn't slide. I wanted to give him as little time open as possible. Unless it was going to hurt our defense, I was going to stay with him. Every game Greer's had a hat trick, they won, so you know how vital he is to their success."

Two guys who had combined for 110 goals and 77 assists coming in were simply shut down. Greer had tied the tournament record with 16 goals coming in, but couldn't break it.

"If we go zero and zero, and win the game, it doesn't matter," said Danowski, the coach's son. "If you're going to take us away, other people are going to have to step up."

Duke's comeback was fueled by its midfield, but its 11 goals were its fewest since April 14, when it beat Virginia, 7-6, in overtime.

Hopkins has to replace senior goalie Jesse Schwartzman, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, but it returns its entire close defense.

Matt Bocklet is a junior. Evans was in high school two years ago and unable to go to Philadelphia to see Hopkins beat Duke for its first NCAA title since 1987.

"I worked my landscaping job that day, loading trees," Evans said. "My father did let me take off early, so I could watch the NCAA final on TV."

Zerrlaut, built like a lumberjack at 6 feet 5 and 235 pounds, had a bird's-eye view of the 2005 NCAA final, riding the Blue Jays' bench.

Zerrlaut received his psychology degree last week. He redshirted with an injury as a freshman and learned the morning after Selection Sunday that he had been accepted into Hopkins' graduate school, which will allow him to use his fourth year of eligibility next spring.

"It's been a good month," Zerrlaut deadpanned.

On to Boston

For the fifth straight year, attendance records were set at the championship weekend. Saturday's semifinals gave the sport its first crowd over 50,000, and 48,443 came yesterday.

The records coincide with the NCAA's moving the event off campus and into NFL stadiums. M&T Bank was the first such host, in 2003 and '04. Philadelphia was the host city the past two years, and Boston will become the first New England site for the men's championship weekend next May.

With Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia preparing bids for the 2009 championships, is it a must to raise the attendance record each year?

"I don't think so, but attendance does make a huge statement," said Marty Schwartz, the tournament director in Baltimore. "We have a lot of things going on in the Inner Harbor that help, and our hotel situation is good. Philadelphia has better parking."

What was different on Baltimore's third try? Schwartz traced the field's cleaner appearance to its primary tenant.

"We dressed over the NFL field markings and the Ravens' [midfield] logo, at their suggestion," Schwartz said.

The men's basketball Final Four, played in domed stadiums since 1997, is the only NCAA championship event that draws better than men's lacrosse.

Et cetera

North Carolina's 1982 champions, who were coached by Baltimore native Willie Scroggs, were honored at halftime. ... Besides Danowski and Greer, the all-tournament team had Duke's Nick O'Hara, a defenseman, and midfielder Ned Crotty; Cornell attackman David Mitchell; and five from Hopkins: Zerrlaut, Schwartzman, attackman Jake Byrne and midfielders Stephen Peyser and Paul Rabil.

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

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