Life as a national champion is great.
Just ask Washington College senior lacrosse attackman Andy Lopatin.
"It has already changed my life," Lopatin said Tuesday, two days after leading the Shoremen (14-4) to their first NCAA Division III national championship with a 16-10 victory over two-time defending national champion Nazareth College.
"To be part of history at my school is something really special. It's been great and just keeps getting better," he said.
Lopatin was vacationing in a cloudy Ocean City this week, but he could see nothing but sunshine and blue skies.
"I couldn't ask for anything more than this," said Lopatin as he basked in the aftermath of a blistering goal-scoring binge in the NCAA tournament. Lopatin scored a total of 13 goals on Hampden-Sydney, Salisbury State and Nazareth.
He threw in a game-high four against Nazareth, including the go-ahead goal with 3: 03 left in the third quarter during an eight-goal run.
Senior midfielder Jamie Pollock said he "wasn't really scared we weren't going to win at any point of the game."
Pollock cranked out a career-high five assists against the stunned Golden Flyers, and said he was simply in a zone.
"I never had a feeling of invincibility like that before," said Pollock. "For some reason, I had a lot of confidence."
Pollock said his big-game performance came in part from his background at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville.
"We were taught at St. Paul's to play your best in the big games," said Pollock, who finished the season with nine goals and 19 assists.
A sense of disbelief over it all this week is still engulfing junior midfielder Bill Grothmann, who scored what proved to be the deciding goal with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Grothmann is a rare lacrosse story.
He never played varsity lacrosse at Loyola High and is just one year removed from a rather uneventful sophomore lacrosse season at Anne Arundel Community College.
Grothmann gave up the game for basketball in his junior and senior years at Loyola High and then went to Loyola College "just for school."
He played a little club lacrosse at Loyola College before transferring to Anne Arundel Community College for one year and taking up the game seriously again.
"I was just a role player in junior college, but I had one thing going for me, I didn't turn the ball over," said Grothmann. "That gave me an opportunity to play for Coach [John] Haus at Washington College, but I never envisioned winning the national championship this year."
Grothmann said the Shoremen, who got off to a 2-2 start, didn't look much like a championship team of any kind early in the year, "when guys were dropping passes and not even worrying about it."
"Finally, Coach Haus made every player who dropped a pass run up and down the field every time it happened," he said. "That forced us to learn how important it was not to drop the ball."
Also, the team overcame injuries to several key players to capture the title in its 21st year in NCAA postseason play.
Said Haus: "I'll never forget looking out on that field last Sunday and watching all my players hugging each other and holding the championship trophy. This team had a lot of fight in it, and I could see a certain look in their eyes that they were not going to lose that game."
Pub Date: 5/28/98