- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2006

2:07 p.m.

Maryland lacrosse faceoff specialist David Tamberrino gingerly hobbled off the field several times in Sundays National Collegiate Athletic Association quarterfinal victory over Princeton, his two-week-old right hamstring injury clearly causing some pain.

It didnt stop him from going back to midfield for all but one faceoff that day. And it wont prevent him being at midfield when the second-seeded Terrapins (12-4) meet Massachusetts (12-4) in Saturday’s NCAA semifinal at Lincoln Financial Field.

Its a testament to both the 5-foot-8, 190-pound seniors toughness and love for the sport that he repeatedly scampers out for a faceoff. Nothing — routine ankle and hand problems, pulled hamstrings, even a broken foot suffered in last years final four — seems to derail him for long.

“I know Im not as talented as most of the kids on the team or as athletic as any of them, but Ive found my little niche to get myself on the field,” Tamberrino said.

His play has quietly been a big reason the Terps are in the final four for the third time in four seasons. There was concern in February that Maryland would resort to a faceoff-by-committee for the fourth straight season.

However, Tamberrino quickly earned the starting job and never relinquished it, and enters the final four at 58.8 percent (137-of-233) for the season.

“Hes been preparing like a banshee for faceoffs,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. “Theres no kid Ive been around as a faceoff guy whos prepared as hard as David has.”

Its not a new trait for Tamberrino, who played football at Loyola High School in Baltimore after older brothers Tom and Joe passed on the sport. He doggedly lifted weights and worked out enough to become a two-year varsity player, but broke his leg in a Thanksgiving Day game as a junior.

Tamberrino didnt have much time to recover before trying to make the varsity lacrosse team at Loyola. But he eventually did, and wound up a starting faceoff man as a senior.

His father suggested looking into Division III schools like Washington & Lee and Gettysburg. Tamberrino shrugged off the advice, preferring to look at Princeton, Navy and ultimately Maryland, where his offbeat personality fits well.

“I think sometimes the faceoff men, some of them are introverts who dont say much, but most are self-made people. They dont perceive it as anything but a war,” said Rich Tamberrino, Davids father and a longtime lacrosse official. “They go out there with that. They get so geared up to fight. The football helped him with that. He played lineman, so he got used to being beat up. He thinks of it as an individual battle, a little guerrilla fight out there.”

He will be in an interesting one Friday against Massachusetts long pole Jake Deane. David Tamberrino believes the Minutemen will either clamp down on him or shut off his wings, leaving Deane to attempt to force a turnover should he grab a ground ball.

That could lead to a bit more running than Tamberrino is accustomed to and perhaps would prefer, but after two ugly final four losses earlier in his career, Tamberrino will use a whatever-it-takes mentality.

“David can take a licking and keep on going and I respect that,” Cottle said. “David needs a licking monthly because when he gets too far on the other side he thinks hes Superman, but he doesnt have a cape. Davids right on the edge.”

Added Tamberrino: “We lost by a combined 19 goals the two times weve been there, and Im going to do everything I possibly can for that not to happen again.”

Long time coming

Massachusetts attackman Sean Morris last attended the final four as an eighth-grader in 1998, and he promised his parents he wouldnt return until he was playing in the event. He kept his word.

The Tewaaraton Trophy finalist leads the Minutemen into their first final four trip in 17 NCAA appearances today. Morris and his teammates just finished final exams this week but have still found time to enjoy the hoopla surrounding the teams run.

“Especially around the athletic department, theres a lot of buzz,” Morris said. “Bars have been having drink specials, and all throughout the playoffs the athletic department has been able to bus fans to places we played. Its been pretty cool.”

Like Morris, Massachusetts coach Greg Cannella is not a final four regular. He last attended a final four in 1997, preferring instead to spend time with his family during a dead recruiting period.

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