By Connor Letourneau, The Baltimore Sun
5:24 PM EDT, May 25, 2012
John Haus hasn't heard from his younger brother this week. Of course, the Maryland men's lacrosse midfielder hasn't exactly tried to reach out to him either.
No hard feelings. It's just the nature of sports.
"It's game week," said Will Haus, a freshman starting on Duke's defensive midfield, "so there's not much talking going on."
John's Terps will face Will's Blue Devils in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. It will be the third time the Haus brothers have squared off against one another this season.
It will also mark the third full week this year the two haven't exchanged so much as a text message.
That's no slight against their relationship, though. The siblings, who are only two years apart in age and played several different sports together growing up, are quite close. They usually chat between three and four times a week, and try to watch each other's games whenever they get the chance.
But John and Will understand that they can always depend on family. An appearance in Monday's national championship game is far more conditional.
"It has nothing to do with me not liking him or him not like liking me," John said. "It's just that we want our respective teams to win and be the best that they can be."
That team-first mentality has been a critical component of both siblings' successes this year.
After losing 17 seniors from a team that reached the national title game last May, Terps coach John Tillman has had to rely upon John's versatility for stretches this season. He has had the junior play offense, defense and even take wing on faceoffs.
John, who runs on the Terps' first midfield line, has responded with his best statistical season to date. He ranks third on the team in points (15 goals and 16 assists) and earned All-ACC honors for the first time this year.
"He's a guy that can do everything. He really doesn't have any weaknesses," Tillman said. "His versatility makes it easier for us as coaches."
Will has also demonstrated his ability to adapt this season. After tallying 94 goals as an attackman at Palmyra (Pa.) Area High School the previous two years, the rookie was asked to fill a hole on the Blue Devils' defensive midfield. He has quickly emerged as a tight cover man, someone coach John Danowski knows will consistently help nullify opponents' top offensive weapons.
On Saturday, it's possible the ACC all-tournament team member will have the unenviable task of covering his older brother. It wouldn't be the first time. The two went head-to-head during the ACC semifinals April 20, banging into each other on several key possessions as Duke notched a 6-5 win.
"I don't really pay too much attention to it," Will said. "I just try and act like he's any other player on another team. You can't really read too much into it because it might mess with you."
But while the brothers may be able to temporarily overlook their family ties, such a task is nearly impossible for their parents, John Haus III and Lisa Haus. They realize that when the final whistle sounds Saturday night, they're destined to feel conflicted. One of their sons will have the opportunity to play for a national championship, while the other's dream will be cut short.
"That's probably the most difficult part," said John Haus III, the men's lacrosse coach at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. "You're certainly going to be ecstatic that you're going to be standing there Monday watching one of your boys play, but you're also going to feel for the one that's not going to have that opportunity."
Still, the Haus family is intent on enjoying Saturday's festivities. Earlier this season, they created a poster that reads, "A Haus Divided." They also made T-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts that pay homage to both boys. The front says "MaryDuke," while each sleeve features one of the player's respective numbers.
They've held the sign and worn the gear at the previous two games this year, and plan to bring them back out Saturday night. It's their way of supporting both programs, of encouraging both players. After all, the Haus clan knows lacrosse. They understand and appreciate the significance of the moment.
"It's special to be able to go to a game and watch two of your sons on the same field at the same time playing for Division I lacrosse programs, much less in the final four," John Haus III said. "I mean, it really is special."
As for John Haus IV and Will Haus? Don't expect them to contact each other just yet. At least not until Monday's matchup is set. The stakes are far too high.
"We'll exchange texts and what not," Will said. "But not until it's over."
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