Ball control crucial for two stars in NCAAs

The Baltimore Sun

There's not much Maryland's Dana Dobbie and Towson's Hillary Fratzke cannot do on the lacrosse field.

They can dominate on either end of the field for their NCAA tournament-bound teams, and each ranks among the national leaders in such diverse categories as draw controls, points and caused turnovers.

While such success usually comes with an early start in the sport, Dobbie, a senior, and Fratzke, a junior, didn't play girls lacrosse until they were about 13. Instead, they played lots of other sports and battled their siblings in backyard competition, thus laying a foundation for versatility and a high athletic IQ.

Each was born far from the epicenter of lacrosse - Dobbie in Guelph, Ontario, and Fratzke in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Dobbie played boys box lacrosse, but she also played ice hockey, basketball and rugby. Fratzke, who eventually moved to the Eastern Shore, played soccer, basketball and softball.

In her backyard, Dobbie spent hours going one-on-one with her older brother, Jason. Fratzke had a few more competitors in her house.

"Coming from a family with six kids and literally competing for everything, everything's a game and a competition," said Fratzke, a Queen Anne's County graduate. "I think that has a lot to do with developing that drive and with gaining the skills that you need to have to get things done."

Both agreed that playing multiple sports has given them a keen field sense and the ability to anticipate the action.

"One of the big things - and I see this a lot doing camps - is a lot of kids don't have the best field awareness," Dobbie said. "That's one of the things that helped me - the ability to see all the different plays happening before you're involved. I think I developed that by playing so many other sports."

That and much more has turned them into the top players in their conferences. Dobbie is a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and one of five finalists for the 2008 Tewaraaton Trophy. Fratzke is this season's Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.

From the first draw to the last whistle, they will be in the thick of most of the action today as Dobbie leads the third-seeded Terrapins against Temple at 1 p.m. in College Park and Fratzke leads the Tigers into the Carrier Dome for a 3:30 p.m. game with fifth-seeded Syracuse.

Terps coach Cathy Reese and Tigers coach Missy Doherty point to many of the same attributes in the two - from innate talent to competitive drive to exceptional work ethic.

The results show in the statistics, especially on the draw. This season, Dobbie ranks first in the nation, and Fratzke ranks second in total draw controls as well per-game average. Both hold NCAA draw control records. Dobbie is the all-time career leader (322) and single-season leader (114) while Fratzke has the best single-season average of 6.29, set in 2005-06.

While their ability to win draws can spark that initial possession, they also excel at finishing. Fratzke has 59 goals and 24 assists this season, and Dobbie has 66 goals and 12 assists.

Still, their value to their teams can't be measured just in statistics.

"Both really do a great job of controlling the game for their teams, of coming up with the plays - not just the point plays, but the ground balls on the draw or the caused turnover that's the momentum-changing play," Doherty said. "You look around, and when you see Hillary or Dana near the ball, you know they're coming up with it."

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