Duke lacrosse star returning to Philly for NCAA quarterfinals

Posted: May 18, 2012

IN FEBRUARY 2011, former Lower Merion High lacrosse star Jordan Wolf returned home as a Duke freshman. In only his third game, Wolf had minimal impact as the Blue Devils were upset by Penn, 7-3, at Franklin Field.

Wolf will get another chance to shine at home on Sunday, when Duke takes on Colgate in the NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinals at PPL Park in Chester.

"The most important thing is to worry about the game and advancing, but it's definitely special to play in my hometown," Wolf says. "To be honest, it's almost like a dream come true. We came back to play Penn last year and it was a pretty disappointing outcome, so hopefully we can do a lot better this time."

Wolf has emerged as the leading attackman for the third-seeded Blue Devils, totaling 31 goals and 28 assists as a sophomore. His 59 points lead the team and place him 15th in the nation in scoring. He had 51 points last year, second on the team.

Measuring only 5-9 and 170 pounds, Wolf combats his size deficiency with speed and quickness. He tailored his game to his dimensions long ago, and says it's no longer something he thinks about.

"If I come around the goal, I can maneuver low to the ground," he says. "It's hard for the bigger guys. I think it plays to my advantage."

Wolf says that games like Sunday's quarterfinal are precisely why Duke was at the top of his list when he was mulling college destinations as a two-time All-America at Lower Merion.

"This was always my first choice," he says. "It's why you go to a place like Duke - to play in these big games and to win championships. I wanted to be part of it."

Duke lacrosse coach John Danowski still sees Wolf as an evolving player.

"This year he is drawing everybody's No. 1 defenseman," Danowski says. "And there are terrific athletes out there that are bigger than and as fast as Jordan, so he has had to learn to be a more complete player."

Joined by fellow sophomores Christian Walsh and Josh Dionne, Wolf leads a youthful, three-pronged attack.

Wolf says that along with honing his lefthanded shot, playing more of a distribution role was a key development objective for him this year.

"I came out of nowhere last year because I wasn't starting, so people weren't as prepared for me," he says. "Now, teams are sliding a lot early to take away my strengths. It's nice to get my teammates involved. You can't be splitting [double teams] and going to the goal every time."

A win on Sunday would give the Blue Devils (14-4) their sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA's Final Four and position them one step closer to their second title in 3 years. While Wolf has totaled only five points in his last two games, Danowski says the numbers are deceiving.

"They might have been his best two games of the year in terms of managing the game, seeing the field and making the plays he needs to make," Danowski says. "And it's a great time to be playing your best."

The Blue Devils fly to Philly Saturday morning and, if Wolf has his say on this trip home, will leave Sunday victorious.

"I'm trying to minimize the distractions. It's a business trip," he says. "Then hopefully after the game - we get the win - and there will be time to see family and friends."

More lax at PPL Park

Preceding the Duke-Colgate matchup on Sunday, fourth-seeded Notre Dame will battle fifth-seeded (and defending champion) Virginia with faceoff scheduled for noon. In the other quarterfinals, Saturday at Annapolis, Md., second-seeded Johns Hopkins faces Maryland and top-seeded Loyola (Md.) plays Denver. The winners will move on to next weekend's Final Four to be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

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