John Danowski seems to have the magic touch.
During his 21-year career as the Hofstra men's lacrosse coach from 1986-2006, he led the Pride to eight conference championships, eight NCAA Tournament bids and 17 seasons ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation.
And in just three seasons in Durham, N.C., he's led Duke to a 50-9 record, three ACC titles, three straight Final Four appearances, and one final.
Just one thing has eluded the longtime coach: a national championship.
"As crazy as it sounds, to me, it's not really about that," said Danowski, whose No. 2 Blue Devils (1-1) lost its home opener to No. 9 Notre Dame Saturday, 11-7, after a season-opening 12-11 overtime win at No. 19 Bucknell last Saturday. "The thought of a national championship, or something like that, is so far in the rearview mirror."
The Blue Devils' biggest concern is goaltending.
Baldwin's Devon Sherwood, Mike Rock from Bay Shore, and freshman Dan Wigrizer will fight for time in goal, after junior Sean Brady was suspended due to a violation of team rules.
"It would be nice to say we were settled in that position, that we know who's going to be in there. But we don't and that's OK," Danowski said. " . . . If it turns out that we have to play more than one goalie we will."
Despite the uncertainty inside the net, the Blue Devils can reach the Final Four again through their solid attack, led by senior captain Ned Crotty, who led the nation in points (78), Max Quinzani (team-high 46 goals) and Huntington's Zach Howell (29 goals). But top-ranked Syracuse and No. 3 Virginia will be tough to beat.
And Danowski knows it.
"I'm a big believer in 'you're the champ until someone knocks you off,' he said, referring to Syracuse, which defeated Duke, 17-7, in last year's national semifinal en route to the title.
And though he may be hundreds of miles removed from his days at Hofstra, he admits he keeps a close tabs on the Pride. "My favorite team to keep an eye on is certainly the Pride from Hofstra," he said with a laugh.