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Brothers Dobson duel in NCAA lacrosse semis

Updated 12:57 pm, Saturday, May 26, 2012

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  • Devon Dobson of New Milford plays lacrosse for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, In., 2012

Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Photo: Contributed Photo
    Devon Dobson of New Milford plays lacrosse for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, In., 2012 Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Moments after the University of Notre Dame men's lacrosse team ended Virginia's reign as national champion in suburban Philadelphia last Sunday to secure its own spot in this weekend's Final Four, Janice Dobson uttered the perfect headline from her seat in the Irish's pre-designated fan section.

"I just said, `Oh, brother,'" recalled Mrs. Dobson.

She assumes a different identity Saturday, May 26 when the fourth-seeded Irish meet the top-seeded Greyhounds of Loyola University in the first of two national semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass (2:30 p.m., ESPN2).

"I'm a Mama Irish `Hound," Mrs. Dobson said, laughing at more of her own handiwork. "I'm not rooting for a team. But I'll celebrate every goal."

For the Dobsons, a sampling of extended family, friends and everyone else watching back home in New Milford, today's a win-win. They don't really have a dog in this fight because in either event, a Dobson will be playing Monday for a national title.

Devon Dobson, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound, senior short-stick defensive midfielder, wears No. 22 for the Irish.

His younger brother, Philip, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior, sports the same digits for the Greyhounds and patrols the offensive midfield.

Mom, Dad and big brother, Tom, are all ecstatic, sure. And it's an easy choice for the shining moment in the history of Green Wave lacrosse (c. 1997).

Yet Mrs. Dobson will be happiest, she admits, when the family gets to take a breather between games Sunday.

"It's like, you have five fingers on your hand and which one can you live without?" she said, referring to the downside of all this, that one of her boys will come up empty on the doorstep of a dream come true. "It's all good. It's all bad, but it's all good."

Another tough decision?

Which section should the Dobsons occupy Saturday, a conundrum they were ultimately able to tackle creatively through the use of special tickets that permit mid-game switching.

Although if you ask Philip, the issue could have been resolved much simpler.

"They should sit on the Loyola side," offered Philip, 21, after practice Wednesday night, "because we're going to win."

Devon, your thoughts?

"I'm not surprised," texted Devon, 23, later that night. "Part of him is fairly immature."

That's how it goes during Final Four week, when brother-to-brother texting gets icy and injury report inquiries are met with "Oh, wouldn't you like to know?"

By and large, the Dobson brothers are a tight bunch, dating back to backyard lacrosse games that first began to take precedence over all other sports when Devon brought home his first stick as a third grader.

"I brought home my stick and we were just messing around with it," Devon said. "We were all kind of tired of baseball at that point."

Within the next year, they all made the switch from youth baseball to youth lacrosse.

Three boys. Three different skill sets. All three of them falling for a strange new game as their friends pursued more conventional ones.

Tom, 25, an attackman, has since retired his stick in favor of a guitar, but he was the first to make an impact with New Milford High's fledgling lacrosse program.

Devon played two years with each brother. You would have to pry the Dobsons off the practice field, long after everybody else headed for home.

"This is a testament to their work ethic," said friend and former teammate Doug Kuring, who became the first Green Wave player to play Division I lacrosse when he landed at Fairfield University in 2007.

"We were always out there practicing, doing whatever we could to get better," he recalled. "They are where they are for a reason. They didn't get there just by chance. They're at the stage that they should be... don't expect either of them to go easy on each other."

The proof is in the numbers posted during their respective New Milford High School playing days.

Devon is the all-time leading scorer at NMHS with 235 goals. He also had 108 assists for 343 total points and holds the Green Wave record for single- season scoring, tallying 71 goals and 44 assists in 2007.

He then went on to a year at Choate-Rosemary Hall School in Wallingford, where he earned all-New England prep and was team MVP, before moving west to South Bend, Indiana.

Phil scored 185 goals and assisted 78 more during his NMHS career and, like Devon, was an all-state player before he headed to Baltimore, Md. to attend Loyola.

Devon doesn't like to say he paved the way for Philip, but his experience with the recruiting process -- the camps, the showcases, the summer games -- certainly informed Phil.

And Devon wasn't afraid to, uh, inform Philip whenever the two shared the field.

"He got in my face a couple times, but it was all constructive criticism," said Phil. "It's definitely helped me out to get to where I am today."

"Devon definitely has a lot of humility, he takes things very seriously-- he's a hard-nosed kind of kid," Doug Kuring said. "(Phil) takes things lightly, and I think it's helped him stay calm at times, during those intense moments on the field."

There's no greater proof of that than in Phil's self-scouting report, which he's happy to share.

"(Growing up) I was just a better shooter, a better stick-handler," Phil said. "I'm just, you know... you can put this in the newspaper. I'm just a better athlete."

All their verbal jabbing aside, both brothers are confident they can switch gears for Monday's game and become a fan of the other's team for the day.

"Of course," Devon said. "Whatever happens, he's either going to be rooting for me or I'm going to be rooting for him."

On an assist from Tom, Mrs. Dobson won't have trouble deciding on game-day attire. A day after the Irish punched their ticket, Tom went to work on a Team Dobson T-shirt that's a down-the-middle mash-up of both teams' motifs-- think rapper Nelly's Giants-Ravens Super Bowl halftime show hybrid -- to allow the Dobsons to blend in on either side.

The official mom of the Final Four might have a harder time of if she were to be granted her preferred Gillette Stadium transport.

"Maybe I'll need a golf cart to go between the fans," Mrs. Dobson said. "It's all a lot of fun."

Contact Chris Brodeur at cbrodeur@newstimes.com or at 203-731-3378. Follow him on Twitter: @BrodeurDNT.

Devon Dobson

short-stick defensive midfielder ... coming off a solid fall campaign ... has appeared in 21 career games ... one monogram ... 24 ground balls ... battled through injuries during his first two seasons ... a tough, fast and athletic player with a great deal of experience ... has good speed ... has developed into more of a threat in the transition game ... can faceoff.

AS A JUNIOR (2011): Played in all 14 games ... notched one assist ... picked up 22 ground balls ... helped the Notre Dame defense rank second nationally by surrender- ing just 6.57 goals per game ... recorded his first career point with an assist in an 11-7 win over Drexel ... scooped up a career-high three ground balls in three times (Penn State, Providence, Duke) ... earned his first monogram.

AS A SOPHOMORE (2010): Played in two games ... went 1-for-5 in faceoffs ... saw his first action of the season during an 11-3 victory over Providence ... also played in a 13-6 win at St. John's.

AS A FRESHMAN (2009): Played in five games ... collected two ground balls ... made Irish debut in a 19-7 win over Dartmouth ... picked up two ground balls against the Big Green ... also saw time in wins over Denver, Quinnipiac, St. John's and Ohio State.

PREP AND PERSONAL: A two-time all- state selection in lacrosse at New Milford High School ... has earned four varsity letters ... four-time all-conference, three-time team MVP and two-time team captain ... one conference championship ... is the all-time leading scorer at New Milford with 235 goals ... also has 108 assists for 343 total points ... holds the New Milford record for single- season scoring as he tallied 71 goals and 44 assists in 2007 ... has experience at the faceoff circle ... played in the Connecticut Super Juniors all-star game and the Connecticut all-star game in 2006 ... attended a post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn. where he was named MVP ... named midfielder of the year of the New England Prep School 2008 season ... younger brother, Phil, plays lacrosse at Loyola College ... is the son of Phil and Janice Dobson ... enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business as a finance major ... possesses a 3.067 cumulative GPA.

Dobson's Career Statistics

Year G-S G A Pts. GB Shots Sh Pct. SOG P/Min UpG DnG FO

2009 5/0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 0 1-0:30 0 0 0-0

2010 2/0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 0 1-0:30 0 0 1-5

2011 14/0 0 1 1 22 3 .000 3 4-2:30 0 0 0-0

Totals 21/0 0 1 1 24 3 .000 3 5-3:00 0 0 1-5