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Maryland lacrosse: Tenacity a Holmes family trait

Curtis Holmes' older brothers brought a rugged style to Maryland's lacrosse program for much of the last decade.

The youngest has carried on the legacy as a linchpin of the Terrapins' final four run.

Holmes enters Saturday's semifinal against Duke with a .628 faceoff percentage, a crucial development for a Maryland outfit thriving on his workmanlike approach passed down from his brothers.

"I've been to plenty of Terps games at Byrd Stadium and all over the country," the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Holmes said. "Just the mentality of what it is to be a Terp, that's just the type of person that I am and the type of family that we are - kind of hard-working, do the dirty stuff, do all the dirty work."

It's an impressive tradition Holmes is maintaining for the Terps (12-4), who will play in the first final four since 2006.

Travis Holmes, the oldest brother, was primarily a defensive midfielder from 2004-07. Bryn Holmes followed his brother to Maryland, working as both a faceoff specialist and defensive midfielder from 2007-10.

Curtis arrived in College Park last season, taking only 24 draws while Bryn handled most of the faceoff duties. He also brought with him a reserved personality that transforms during games.

"It's the way we all are," Travis Holmes said. "We're pretty soft-spoken and laid back, but once you're on the field, it's easy to flip that switch. If you were to stand on the sideline, you couldn't tell if he was upset or whether he won or lost a faceoff, but the competitive edge is still there."

Travis said the wrestling coach at their high school dubbed the youngest brother "Casual Curt" for his relaxed approach. It was apparent at a young age; Travis said one of their mother's favorite stories stems from a holiday when Curtis was a year old. Already able to walk, he opted to roll across the room to collect his goodies.

"That's about as casual as you can get," Travis said.

Don't mistake it for apathy.

Faceoffs appeared to be a question mark when the season started. Curtis Holmes struggled in a fall scrimmage against Loyola. But the Terps — and especially the Holmes brothers — knew better.

"Last year, he could have faced off any time I wasn't facing off," Bryn Holmes said. "He could have easily just jumped in there. I would have liked it so I could play some defense. He definitely has got some quickness, where I was just trying to beat you up. His technique is awesome. I'm not saying he's not a physical faceoff guy, but he's got great quickness."

New coach John Tillman, assured of Curtis Holmes' abilities by assistant Ryan Moran, went with the youngest of the brothers to open the season. In the first two games, Holmes won 37 of 52 draws.

He's won at least 50 percent of his draws in every game, and is 26-for-36 in the NCAA tournament.

"Coach talked to me in the beginning of the season, saying 'That spot is yours for the taking,' which I've taken pride in this year," Curtis Holmes said.

The quality play was especially apparent against elite faceoff men. Holmes won 14 of 26 draws against first-team All-America pick Matt Dolente of Johns Hopkins, and was 34-for-53 in three meetings with North Carolina's R.G. Keenan, a third-team selection.

Holmes earned an honorable mention nod, but his value to the Terps cannot be disputed.

"Curtis might be our MVP," Tillman said. "If you wanted to take one guy away from our team who could hurt us the most, I think it might be Curtis."

It's just one more way Holmes is much like his brothers, part of a blue-collar family whose ethos reflects the characteristics Maryland has built its program upon for decades. This weekend, Holmes will be the first of his three brothers to play in a final four in their hometown, an outcome set up from years of work.

"Growing up, quitting wasn't in our vocabulary," Bryn Holmes said. "We just always had the competitive juices flowing. Maryland was kind of the perfect fit for that."

And this spring, Curtis Holmes was the perfect fit for Maryland.

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