Had a prophet told Severn graduates Craig Fleming and Andy Odenwald, while in high school, that they'd one day be helping Roanoke College try to capture an NCAA Division III men's lacrosse championship, neither would have taken him seriously.
Fleming, one of the Maryland Scholastic Association's most consistent goalies his senior year, was getting some bites from Division I schools, but fell for Roanoke hook, line and sinker, after visiting the Salem, Va., campus.
Odenwald wanted to be a Blue Hen and attended the University of Delaware for one semester before transferring to Roanoke for personal reasons.
Despite their varied paths, the two sophomores will share a common goal when they try to lead the Maroons past Nazareth College (13-1) in today's 3 p.m. final at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
Roanoke (12-4), which dropped a 13-12 decision to Nazareth in the regular season, advanced to the final round by defeating Ithaca College, 20-10, in last week's semifinals. Nazareth is coming off a stunning win over 12-time defending champion Hobart College.
"We were pretty lucky to get Craig here," said Roanoke coach Bill Pilat. "When we were recruiting him out of high school, he wasn't that interested at first, but after talking to some former players, and visiting the school, he decided it was a good move.
"Things weren't working out for Andy at Delaware, and we don't hold any grudges against transfers. The only thing about transfers is that they have to start at ground zero, just like the freshmen."
As a freshman last season, Fleming saw only spot action behind senior Steve Mason, an All-America goalie from St. Paul's in Baltimore County. While he'd rather had been in the crease blocking shots than on the sideline, Fleming accepted his backup role, knowing his time would come.
"I got real anxious to play last year, but I didn't mind waiting," he said. "I knew Mason was a senior, and I knew if I played the way I was capable of playing, I would be starting by my sophomore year."
Fleming, a 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, not only started every game as DTC sophomore, but set a school record along the way. Fleming's 228 saves on the season set a new standard at Roanoke, surpassing the old record of 217 set in 1985 by Pilat.
"He's a good stick handler, and he sees the ball real well," said Pilat, who joked that he considered giving Fleming a day off to keep his record intact. "He's been working hard on his angle play and his hands are getting quicker.
"We're a run-and-gun team, and Craig fits into our style very well. He makes great outlet passes which allows our offense to get the ball up the field in a hurry."
Hampered by shinsplints early in the season, Odenwald saw more and more playing time as the season progressed. Playing both midfield and attack, the 5-7, 160-pounder tallied 21 goals and seven assists in helping the Maroons to an Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship.
"Andy has a very hard shot," said Pilat, whose offense set school season records for goals (289), assists (164) and total points (453). "It's hard and accurate. He's been playing with much more hustle and intensity lately, and as a result, he's been getting more and more playing time. We think he can be a strong contributor for the next two years."
Severn coach Rob White admitted he never expected to see the duo back together again, but was happy to hear that two of his former players would be competing for a national championship.
"I thought Craig was the best goalie around his senior year. He just didn't get the Division I exposure," said White. "But things have a way of working out for the best. When I last talked to Andy, he thought he found a shoe that fits real well at Roanoke. I think he's really happy there and that's what's important. He and Craig are good friends, and that makes it even nicer."