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In semifinals, a genetic match


John Glatzel wasted no time getting on his brother Tom's back - literally - about their matchup in the semifinals of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

After a quarterfinal win at Hofstra, John and a few Syracuse teammates headed south, to the next day's doubleheader at Byrd Stadium in College Park. He paced with his parents as Tom led Notre Dame to a conquest of Johns Hopkins, then sweet-talked his way onto the field.

"A security guard saw my Syracuse jacket," John said. "I told her my twin brother was out there, and asked if I could go see him. I snuck up behind Tom and jumped on his back. He didn't know who it was at first. I think it meant a lot to my brother for me to be there. Plus, I got to scout my next opponent."

Upstart Notre Dame gets defending champion Syracuse in Saturday's semifinals at Rutgers, and John doesn't need to study film or call friends for inside information to execute his team's simple defensive strategy:

Identify the opponent's top attackman, in this instance Tom Glatzel, who leads Notre Dame in goals and points. and mark him with John, a defenseman who will surely be named first-team All-American for the second straight year.

"Tom goes to the goal with his right hand," said John, when asked to assess his brother. "He puts his shoulder down and tries to get defensemen off-balance. When he gets double-teamed, he's good at dishing off."

Syracuse is in its 19th straight final four, Notre Dame its first, and there was that kind of disparity between the Glatzel twins until summer 1995. That's when Tom shot up 6 inches and began to block John's shot in the vicious one-on-one games they still wage on the driveway basketball court at their home in Ellicott City.

John is 6 feet and 200 pounds. Tom is thinner but several inches taller, and John said: "I'm still getting used to being the little brother."

"John was always bigger, and matured earlier," their father said.

Ed Glatzel was a third-team All-America defenseman on Maryland's 1973 NCAA champs. The fraternal twins were born six years later, Tom three minutes after John.

John usually got the best of Tom when they knocked around the neighborhood with friends like Pat McGinnis, the Maryland goalie, and Mike Machiran, a Towson defenseman. When they were freshmen at Mount St. Joseph and sophomores at Boys' Latin, John was a varsity starter, Tom a member of the JV. In 1997, John was The Sun's Player of the Year, Tom a second-team All-Metro.

"When John was playing varsity and I was on JV, that never bothered me," Tom said. "It was fun to watch him do well. It wasn't anything competitive. Besides, back in those days, I was about 5-2."

Tom aspired to play for the Fighting Irish after their maternal grandfather, the late Babe Lubertine, took the clan to South Bend for a Navy-Notre Dame football game. John dreamed of NCAA championships, and his talent led Syracuse to expand its recruiting horizons beyond Long Island and upstate New York.

John started in seven games as a Syracuse freshman in 1998 and rarely left the field last season, despite wearing a removable cast that protected a sprained thumb.

There's a hole in the middle of his resume, as John, fellow Boys' Latin grad Tom Nee and Michael Springer were suspended from school in February 1999 after a break-in and thefts at a campus gym. With those three, Syracuse got coach John Desko his first NCAA title last season. Without them two seasons ago, the Orangemen dropped the final to Virginia.

John spent that semester at home, worked at a mortgage company and played club ball for Greene Turtle. He performed community service in Syracuse, returned to school and impressed his teammates to the extent that, like his brother, he's captaining his team this season.

"Being an All-American's nice, but having the respect of my peers means more than individual awards," said John, an accounting and finance major who will return for his senior season in 2002. "I think my teammates see how I've changed and become a better person. You can learn from your mistakes."

John marked his return to the program last year by stopping Conor Gill, an old Baltimore rival who led Virginia to the 1999 title. The Syracuse defense finished the 2000 campaign by blanking Princeton in the first quarter of the championship game, and it's leaned on John again this season.

"He's our silent assassin," goalie Rob Mulligan said. "We stick John on the other team's best player, and we don't expect to hear anything from him."

Glatzel might not necessarily check his brother, because the Fighting Irish offense usually starts with David Ulrich, another Boys' Latin graduate. If Desko sends his defensive ace that way, it would also defuse some tension in the Glatzel household, which will celebrate the twins' 22nd birthday Sunday.

"I don't know where my wife [Dee] and I are going to sit at Rutgers," Ed Glatzel said. "We might split up and flip-flop sides at the half. If the boys match up, she won't even sit; she'll spend the day walking around the top of the stadium. People keep asking me, 'How are you going to handle this?' Simple. I'm going to enjoy the game."

Syracuse at a glance

Record: 12-2.

Coach: John Desko, third season, 38-8.

How it got to Rutgers: Top-seeded Syracuse beat host Hofstra, 18-13, in the quarterfinals as the Orangemen outscored the Pride 12-2 over a 26-minute stretch that ranged from the second to the fourth quarters.

NCAA history: Syracuse earned its seventh title last season and is in the semifinals for the 19th straight year.

Goal leader: Michael Springer, sophomore, 34.

Assist leader: Michael Powell, freshman, 34.

Faceoff specialist: Chris Cercy, senior, won 70.8 percent.

Goalie: Rob Mulligan, senior, 7.87 goals allowed, saved 59.1 percent.

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