- The Washington Times - Monday, May 28, 2007

BALTIMORE - Johns Hopkins’ Mr. May again saved his best performances for the postseason.

Senior goalie Jesse Schwartzman is riding his best spurt of the season, helping the third-seeded Blue Jays (12-4) reach their second title game meeting with No. 1 Duke (17-2) in three seasons.

Schwartzman made 10 saves in Saturday’s 8-3 semifinal victory over Delaware and has a .684 save percentage in this year’s tournament entering today’s final at M&T; Bank Stadium.

“Jesse’s the kind of kid that shows up when the crowd’s there,” long pole Brendan Skakandi said. “He’s a big game type of guy. was a perfect example of that. In front of a big crowd when the lights are on, he steps up and plays his best.”

Schwartzman’s tournament record 8-1 over the last three seasons is sublime, and he was the most outstanding player of the 2005 final four. But he struggled early in the season, and coach Dave Pietramala had backup Michael Gvozden warm up during games against Maryland and Navy and yanked Schwartzman against Mount St. Mary’s in the regular season.

Still, Schwartzman remained the starter, setting up a superb final month for both him and Hopkins’ improved defense

“It’s been tough, but the coaches stuck by us,” Schwartzman said. “I think I played like a senior . I’m in my hometown of Baltimore, and win or lose I’m going out in Baltimore, and I want to end on a good note here.”

Added Skakandi: “When he wants to turn it on and play well, it’s so easy for him. You have to find that trigger to get him to play well. That’s something we had a little difficulty finding this season early on. Right now, he’s playing his best lacrosse, and I think it’s because he knows it’s win or go home.”

O’Hara’s big weekend

Duke long pole Nick O’Hara cobbled together a typically efficient performance in the semifinals, limiting star Cornell midfielder Max Seibald to an assist while scoring a goal and forcing two turnovers in the final minute of regulation against the Big Red.

His next challenge: Stopping Johns Hopkins midfielder Paul Rabil, who like Seibald is a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist.

“Nick is just a tenacious, classic, prototype, pain-the-butt long stick middie,” Duke coach John Danowski said. “He just plays hard all the time, has great stick skills and can play on the offensive side of the field. But defensively, he’s just a pain, and he’s done a great job.”

O’Hara, also a mainstay on the faceoff wings, has 82 groundballs this season and is vital to the Blue Devils’ transition game. He also became the first long pole to earn a first-team All-America nod at midfield since Georgetown’s Brodie Merrill in 2004.

“It’s a great honor, and I’m thrilled, but I’ll take a championship over it any day of the week obviously,” O’Hara said.

In tandem

Duke’s Matt Danowski and Zack Greer are closing in on history as a potent pair.

The attackmen have combined for 187 points this season, with Danowski delivering 43 goals and 51 assists and Greer scoring 67 goals and 26 assists. The NCAA record of 193 was set by Cornell’s Mike French and Eamon McEneaney in 1975.

The odds the record at least will be tied are good; Danowski and Greer have totaled at least six points in 36 of their 47 games as teammates, including all seven of their NCAA tournament games.

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